Conscription Numbers: Vienna

Many of the old conscription numbers can still be found in Vienna, usually on plaques located inside a building’s entrance on the left-hand side near the door or above the second portal near the stairwell.

House numbering was introduced in Europe in the eighteenth century (before that houses usually had names). According to this article“This technology was not introduced to facilitate orientation for the cities’ inhabitants or to be helpful to foreigners; its origin can be located in the border areas of early modern police, military and tax administration. It aimed to give the state access to the riches and resources of every house, and to make it easier to control, tax or recruit their inhabitants, or to lodge soldiers.”

Vienna underwent many house numbering projects; in particular, the conscription numbers in Vienna were changed in 1795, 1821, and after 1874.

For example, this building has had many different conscription numbers throughout the centuries (more info here). The house received the number 1379 in the early 1790s, making this sign over 200 years old.

According to this source: “On May 2, 1862 the Vienna Municipal Council decided to supplement conscription numbers with orientation numbers. Henceforth each street would be numbered separately with even numbers on one side and odd numbers on the other. Thus having become redundant in daily use the conscription number, however, did not completely lose its function: When in 1874 Vienna land title registries started to be re-established in those areas which were then districts 1 through 9 the conscription number was drawn upon for the allocation of the so-called land title registry entry number.”


Here’s another example of one of the earlier conscription numbers, probably also from the 1790s (above the conscription number is a building (orientation) number plaque):

The plaques are from one of the later projects in the 1800s.  Along with the conscription number, they included the district number (there were 9 districts in Vienna.) (Lviv’s plaques also included the district number.) Since Vienna underwent so many renumberings, seems it was also important to include the older conscription number on the new signs.

District I

Roman numeral on top = district number
Conscriptions – Nro 204 = Conscription No. 204
Fruher 1190 Stadt = Formerly 1109 Stadt

Districts VI and VII

District VIII

District IX

Engraved in Stone

 Nro 97


8 thoughts on “Prewar Painted Stripes in Lviv

  1. Thank you Areta for another important and timely blog post on the challenges and issues of Jewish heritage and recovery of memory. We are hopeful that soon the headstones used as basement steps in a courtyard in Lviv (Hałycka Płoszcza 15 / Galitskaya 15) will be recovered. The Lviv Volunteer Center is working behind the scenes to make this happen, with the support of the Lviv Jewish community and others.

  2. This is the part that blows my mind: “During periods of transition, the records occasionally show the use or mix of two languages—Church Slavonic and Latin, or Latin and Ukrainian…”
    SO COOL!
    Thanks, Areta!

  3. > The largest and best-preserved fragment of Lviv’s medieval defense structures is the Hlyniany Gate (1618)

    Areta, Hlyniany Gate and wall around it have been renovated.

    There used to be some residential building in its place (behind the now-demolished fire station in the foreground)

    Building, close-up

    The wall looked like this

  4. Any idea what the Yiddish is on the hat sign on the right? I can make out most of the letters, but my Yiddish isn’t good enough to fill in the blanks. I used to pass by that wall frequently on my way to a friends house, but he has moved since then. It’s still my favorite ghost sign, though 🙂

  5. Kudos to you, Aretha. I came across your blog from a repost from one of your diaspora Ukrainian language from Pre-war Galicia words versus accepted and widely used Post-war words for a long list of foods. I too grew up in the diaspora in Cleveland. I was in Lviv in November of this soon to be last year. Although Lviv is my Dad’s ancestral city, I had family from Central Ukraine and grew up hearing both dialects. I think the blog was from 2014 or 2015. I wanted to leave a comment on your new blog and commend you for the interesting sociolinguistic and cultural discussions you have initiated. Nice to see that you are now in the field doing your research first-hand.

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