The city of Zurich's shape has changed dramatically during the last two decades. In the late 1970s and in the 1980s, such a transformation seemed impossible due to political polarisation and different urban development agendas of Zurich's important stakeholders – i.e. the local government, private investors and land owners. This article sheds light on the political transformation processes that took place in the 1990s, using urban regime theory. Urban regimes are defined as a stable and longstanding form of cooperation between the most important political and private actors, which enables them to draw a common agenda and to use common resources. The emergence of such an urban regime had a crucial impact on the development processes in Zurich, because it has been able to bridge the different interests of the relevant political and private stakeholders. The result was a much more coherent and stable development agenda and a massive development of new construction projects. The most important factors why such a cooperation scheme could be established have been the abandoning of the industrial areas in the late 1980s; the globalisation processes that made a new city development strategy necessary; the mutual need for long-term security in planning; but also the new established policy goals of the social democratic party and its leaders in the city government.