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      Untitled Document

From the marsh of Oberhauserriet to glattpark

The marsh of Oberhauserriet evolved as a semi-encircled basin of choked underground water. The area was periodically inundated by the Glatt river and its tributaries from Seebach, Oerlikon and Schwamendingen. The forests in the water-meadows and woodlands were cultivated, and peat was dug from the original marsh. Also, besides fishing and cattle raising, reed grass was harvested for feed and litter.

Around 1600, a watering program was initiated which was continually expanded into the 19th century to increase the yield. The increasingly frequent inundations led to corrections of the Glatt river, particularly to a lowering of the Glatt in the Oberhausen area. By the end of the 19th centrury, this project was completed, however, it reduced the yield of the water-meadows. After the turn of the century, the Oberhauserriet marsh came under the influence of the city of Zurich-its suburbs began to grow. The soil of the heavily partitioned property of 362 acres, bordering on two much frequented railway lines, was improved.

A Zeppelin transportation network evolved in Germany by 1913 which was to be extended to other European capitals. A landing spot was planned for Zurich at the Oberhauserriet which, due to World War I, was no longer built. (The second revival of the huge Zeppelins after 1920 came to a sudden end when the Hindenburg caught fire in Lakehurst in 1937.) In 1920, there were plans to make the Upper Rhine and the Limmat river navigable. Also, a channel with locks and lifting gear through the Furttal valley up to lake Greifensee was to be built. On the marsh of Oberhausenriet, an extensive wet dock was to be built for the industry of Oerlikon. The unsatisfactory drainage system and the growing sewage problems along the Glatt river resulted in additional corrections from lake Greifensee to Oberglatt. By 1940, conditions for a complete drainage of the marsh were ripe. The "cultivation battle" of the Swiss in World War II advanced the rush to convert the marsh of Oberhauserriet into arable land.

As the city of Zurich anticipated the future expansionary rush, it started buying land reserves for an as yet undetermined use in 1938. In the "glorious '50s", this peripheral area between a prospering major city and slowly emerging suburbs was virtually predestined for public buildings, requiring much open spaces which would otherwise have to be made available by the city of Zurich. To date, a sewage treatment plant, meanwhile closed down, a civil defense center, a sub-plant of Zurich power utilities, a home for refugees, the AU sports facilities and small holding allotments have been built there. Time and again, there were attempts to transfer other facilities to the Oberhauserriet marsh: depots and maintenance centers for an underground system, a slaughterhouse, a football or track-and-field stadium or an ice rink for the local hockey club.

To realize these projects, there had to be valid zone plan. In 1961, a zone plan providing for a generous industrial area was approved, but objections and tedious negotiations made a legally effective plan impossible for the core area comprising 165 acres. Only on Talacker and in the zone for public buildings could buildings be erected. Originally, there was talk of 10,000 industrial jobs. Modern manufacturing methods and the services industry, which required less space per employee, led to the job potential swelling to 20,000. This stirred various interest groups. Some took exception with the ratio of 12,000 inhabitants to 30,000 jobs, others were appalled by the traffic potential and related emissions, and the region feared a loss of production sites to Opfikon, resulting in a weakened tax base.

All these factors triggered a moderated planning round resulting in a zone plan which is legally effective today. The balance between living, work and leisure, the excellent availability of public transportation in the face of limited individual transportation as well as the location between the airport and the city of Zurich have upgraded the former marsh to the city area of Opfikon-glattpark.

Today, we are proud of having succeeded in developing an area which lay fallow for over 40 years, and we are looking forward to high-quality architecture, attractive companies and enthusiastic tenants and homeowners. All of glattpark is geared towards an upper crust standard of living. Easy accessibility of all Swiss cities and of metropolitan Zurich will give the business community easy connections. The proximity to the city of Zurich opens the town's cultural institutions to employees and inhabitants. The regional sports facilities and the nearby recreational areas contribute to the quality of a modern life style. We hope glattpark will develop as planned. Today's lull in building office space should be used to plan ahead and to build, if possible at more moderate cost-in order that when the next economic upswing starts, the infrastructure will be there for the office and housing markets.

Neuzeitliches Neujahrsblatt 1989: Das Oberhauserriet
Publisher: City of Opfikon



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