In reality, the Swiss Alps separate Zurich from the Mediterranian Sea in drastic ways. But you would be surprised to find out that a group of artists has successfully lobbied the city government regarding an installation which would take Zurich back to the industrial age. I am talking about the controversial dock crane, which is supposed to be installed along the beautiful Limmat river in "Downtown Switzerland" in 2012.
Anyone who has taken a wrong turn while traveling abroad would know that dock cranes are humongous, rusty and plain ugly. They are symbols for the perils of global trade just as much as they stand for down and dirty industrial shipping ports. However, the group zurich transit maritim thinks that the crane will stimulate feelings of nostalgia, as it should be a reminder for Zurich's fictious past as a shipping port. Either way, after having sent the project down the drain, the city decided to burn CHF 229'000 of taxpayers' money to further pursue this idea. So now, their argument is that the cost of installing the crane is the same as the fee for terminating existing contracts.
If the purpose of art is to evoke emotions, this project has surely attained its goal. However, it is a sign of the times if a beautiful city like Zurich is willing to invest a total of CHF 600'000 for such a controversial project. There better not be any layoffs of public servants in the coming years, or the dock crane will have to be drowned in the Limmat river...
Would you visit Zurich because of the dock crane? Are you moved, outraged, bewildered or amused by this idea?
Update Apr 4, 2012: The Canton of Zürich has now provided the needed approval for the project to move forward. A dock crane may appear next to Rathaus Café as early as 2013.
(Pictures courtesy of zurich transit maritim)