Having arrived in Zurich two days ago, I made many observations pertaining to the universities in the city without a formal introduction to the university system. Public policy and city infrastructure are very conducive to a lively intellectual culture.
Foremost, the city's infrastructure contributes to social activity and overall quality of life. First, the many pathways, parks and staircases provide innumerable areas where people gather to talk and enjoy their evenings. Students gather in the evenings to enjoy drinks and talk. Their attention is directed towards each other rather than screens. Second, fountains offer beautification, hydration and temperature regulation. I saw many people dip to drink a gulp of water, wash their face and otherwise enjoy fresh mountain wayer. This makes for healthier, happier students. The contrast case of New York City standouts, as students I know there must pack water and strategically remember where bathrooms are hidden throughout the city. These which, I believe, contributes to the vitality of the city and it's universities. Third, the mass transit systems facilitate cheap and efficient transportation, negating the dangers and costs of driving. Zurich makes navigating a pleasant break from work rather than a stressful bookends to work. The city provides the background conditions for academic success.
I'm sure the actual universities do so as well.