Newly Swissed Online Magazine

Does Zurich Need a Fake Dock Crane?

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)

Dimitri Burkhard

As the founder, editor, and community manager of Newly Swissed, Dimitri owns the strategic vision. He is passionate about storytelling and is a member of Swiss Travel Communicators.

Dimitri loves discovering new trends and covers architecture, design, start-ups and tourism.


  • Since moving here I’ve come to realise that Zuerchers really do like art, but this is taking it a step (or five) too far!

    The only way this would be even mildly acceptable is if they let residents of the city climb up it and bungey jump off it for free.

    • I love your bungey jumping idea! How about installing a giant swing for people to use? Or a diving board? Or a Starbucks in the crane operator’s house?

  • Und susch, sinder zwäg??
    Why would you want to throw good money after bad money? It’s bad enough that you ever considered putting an abominable dock crane like this in the midst of “Zunfthäuser” and history-laden churches! A few swiss adages come to mind, like “a Fuscht uf’s Aug” etc.
    If the “monster” works, put it along the lake somewhere to help put boats and yachts in the water.
    This remark comes from one who walked, or rather ran, up and down the Limmatquai for 3 years (during all four seasons) in the fifties in order to get to school in the “Grossmöischter”!!
    Build a home for a permanent exhibit about the marketing skills and maritime connections and life in Zürich in the past! I know it’s tough to backtrack; but would you really want “a Fuscht ufem Aug” (a fist on the eye) for years to come or “es blaus Aug” (a black eye) for e short wile?? I’m sure the taxpayers will forgive you for sending the project “bachab” rather than having to look at it.

Dimitri Burkhard

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