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Basel’s influence on America

A guided city tour will show you that historically there are more things connecting the Basel area with the United States and the American continent than meet the eye.

By Martin Pütter

The teaser on the website of Visit Basel is written rather cleverly: “So if you want to know what led the US film industry to produce ‘One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest’ (only one of three films to win the five major Oscar trophies), based on the novel of the same title by Ken Kesey; what actually lies behind ‘Project Artichoke’; what allowed California’s capital Sacramento to be founded; and why the continent of America was actually named “America”, then this guided tour is just the right thing for you, as behind all this is (…) the Basel area”, the specialists for guided tours in Basel claim.

I am really curious – but my curiosity has become dampened by the date. This particular guided city tour about Basel’s influence on the USA and the American continent and vice versa takes place on 4 July. Well, I have been invited that day; like many US-Americans, I shall be celebrating the former British colonies’ independence with a barbecue – and that requires preparation well in advance.

On top of that this guided tour will be held in German only – that could be a reason for US citizens or Canadians to stay away from this city tour. So, my question then, why have such a tour on 4 July, in German – when quite likely a large number of US-Americans will be missing? “We have been offering this tour for several years already, as obviously many locals are very interested in this subject”, says Christian Rieder from Visit Basel.

However, the managing director of this incoming agency for Basel is able to raise my curiosity again: “Although these guided tours open to the public are held in German, as a matter of course we also, on request, offer guided tours for private tours – these will then be held in English. It is mainly companies and societies that book these private guided tours for groups in English”, Rieder adds – an extensive interview with him already appeared in a print issue of The Basel Journal.

Right, so one day I might be able to join one of these guided tours with my friends from the other side of the pond. My search on Wikipedia, I have to say, for what connects Basel with «One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest» or with «Project Artichoke» provided no results. However, I do have certain ideas what these connections could be, but I’d rather not mention them here.


«Basel and America»
Guided tour open to the public (in German)
Saturday 4 July 2015, 10.30am – 12 noon
Tour guide: Benoît Hilber
Start of guided tour: Main door Münster
Price: CHF 20.00 per person, children 10-16 years CHF 10.00
Booking: Although not compulsory, it guarantees participation (limited number of participants).

Photo Visit Basel/Montage: Christian Rieder

http://www.visitbasel.ch/ (German only)

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