The Weststrasse in Zurich: once a central transit axis, today a neighborhood street with a 30 kph speed limit. For 30 years, north-south traffic in Zurich ran mostly along the narrow Weststrasse in the 3rd arrondissement, but with the opening of the Western Bypass, the neighborhood was freed of this through traffic.The Weststrasse shed its nickname of the “nation’s exhaust” and became a low-traffic area mostly for pedestrians and cyclists. Zurich-based photographer Corina Flühmann has been documenting this process of change since 2007. Weststrasse is not just a sober, long-term photographic documentation, or just a colorful illustration of the street.This artist’s book is instead a precise description of Zurich’s social demographics. It contains portraits of men, women and children, young and old, native Swiss and people of foreign origin, each in their own living and working environment within the neighborhood. Where there used to be long lines of cars and trucks jostling down the street, the newer pictures show pedestrians and bicyclists strolling along.
The renovated facades of the buildings have replaced the old ones, and the renters have changed. Above all, this makes the rapid pace at which the process of gentrification has moved abundantly clear. What has remained unchanged and what the streetscape has preserved is the Orthodox Jewish community and their synagogue at the corner of the Weststrasse and the Erikastrasse. Weststrasse also reports on this prized piece of Zurich’s history in words. In her essay, Melinda Nadj Abonji, winner of the Swiss and German book prize, among others, describes her experience of the Weststrasse in the 1990s, when she lived there in a shared house. Novelist and screenwriter Charles Lewinsky recounts how he used to walk through the 3rd arrondissement as a kid in the 1950s to play football on the Weststrasse. Journalist and Architect Caspar Schärer considers the current aspects of the area’s urban planning.