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Vintage Art for Sale: Dock Crane, 90 Tons, Pick-up Required, Call Zürich!

Zurich Dock CraneWhat's the whole point? To bring a crane from Rostock in northern Germany all the way to the landlocked country of Switzerland? Imagine how many kilometers the ninety tons of steel had to travel to reach this spot at the Limmat river!

Zurich Dock CraneThe Zurich Transit Maritim exhibit even comes with an ear piercing ghost ship horn which will irregularly blast Zürich starting on May 10!

Zurich Dock Crane
Zurich Dock CraneCall it art, or a piece of recycled material, this dock crane is the winner of an international competition by the city of Zurich. Several years ago, the city was looking for a unique art installation that sparks a discussion among people on how to utilize public space.

Zurich Dock CraneThe crane definitively succeeded in igniting a debate! Beauty or beast, some are amused by this rusty giraffe looking down onto the rooftops of Zürich's medieval old town.

Zurich Dock Crane - Zurich Transit MaritimFor others, including myself, the dock crane is a symbol for disposable city taxes in the amount of 600'000 Swiss francs (plus private donations).

At the end of the exhibition in nine months, the sale of the steel scrap will hopefully help the city to recover financially and aesthetically.

What's your opinion of the Zürich dock crane?

Zurich Dock Crane(Photographs copyright by Dimitri Burkhard)

More Information

- Zurich Transit Maritim
- Where to find the dock crane


Mamiko truly loves to discover Switzerland through the Newly Swissed "frame" with her Japanese eyes for details and a spark of American curiosity. She wants to connect Newly Swissed with businesses and organizations in Switzerland and expand the network.


  • I grew attached to the dock crane in the middle of Zürich! In fact, I think it spices up the age old “skyline” of the medieval old town… And I can’t wait for the “ghost ship horn” – how exotic!

  • I grew attached to the dock crane in the middle of Zürich! In fact, I think it spices up the age old “skyline” of the medieval old town… And I can’t wait for the “ghost ship horn” – how exotic!

  • The harbor crane mounted in the shores of the Limmat near Lake Zurich has been the source of a flurry of media coverage and heated debate. Is it a so-called waste of money, or intriguing art? I happen to believe that it is art, in that it depicts something that causes the observer to stop and ponder on its deeper meaning.

    Because Switzerland lies in the heart of Europe and is more famous for its mountains, many people forget about the significance of the country’s rivers and lakes. Basel is Switzerland’s largest port and each year between 10-12% of all imported goods come via the city on the Rhine. Zurich’s own greatness in water transport is reflected in the repurposed shipyard – Schiffbau – which is now a concert hall, but formerly the home of the ship boiler smith Escher Wyss. Of course, one need not even travel to trendy West Zurich to experience part of the Limmat city’s “maritime” history, but the newly opened Sechseläuten Platz has plenty of indicators itself – being partially built on the city’s former port, which up until the main station was built in 1847 served as a major junction for the transport of goods. If course this harbour has long since been filled in and forgotten with the tonnes of goods being moved by rail and roads.

    Because of Switzerland’s and Zurich’s shipping past and present the harbour crane is a relevant piece of art that causes observers to think about the country and city’s history and future. As one of the world’s most affluent cities continues to grow and its citizens consume an ever increasing amount of resources, the crane reminds us of the people and energy needed to bring us our goods.

    To those who consider the crane a waste of taxpayer money, I would like to say that the 600,000 CHF that the city paid for the exhibition is less than 10% of the salary of the 10th highest paid manager in Switzerland. Unlike with most if these managers the majority of money for the exhibition has been spread amongst several people and will follow into the economy. Furthermore, like public referenda – government on all levels has an obligation to address the public and invoke contemplation and conversation. The harbour crane meets all of the objectives of art, and is a welcomed addition to the Limmat city’s skyline.

    A final note: for anyone disagreeing with my point my friend HG summed it up best earlier this week: “The government has spent money on dumber things … like the publishing of SVP pamphlets that no one reads.”

    • Thank you for adding even more texture to this post, Christian! It’s great to be reminded of Zürich’s many historical ties to the shipping industry.

      And with Switzerland being a major hub for global commodity trade (anywhere between 15 – 25% of commodities are electronically traded in places like Geneva or Zug), we are ever more connected to the shipping of goods across the world’s seas.

  • It is an eyesore I I have ever seen one. And an expensive one, at that. The Swiss are so precise, everything is so clean, trimmed, tidy, and then you purposely spend over half a million on a giant rusty piece of garbage? “Nonsensical” doesn’t even begin to cover it.

    I like the idea of an installation that reminds us of Zurich’s past – but it doesn’t have to be a gigantic ugly “found object”. The fact that it sparks discussion does not make it art.

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