This map of Panama was published in 1904, the year that construction of the Panama Canal began. The “Profile of the Panama Canal” at the top shows the plan for the canal. In 1881, a French company led by Ferdinand de Lesseps, the builder of the Suez Canal, had begun work on cutting a sea-level channel across the isthmus. The French venture collapsed in 1889 and work was halted. In 1903, the United States and Panama concluded the Hay-Bunau-Varilla Treaty that granted to the United States the right to build a canal. U.S. engineers had to decide between a sea-level canal or a lake-and-lock design that would follow the natural elevation of the land by using locks to raise and lower ships as they crossed from one ocean to the other. They opted for the latter, which necessitated construction of a series of locks at Gatun, Miraflores, and Pedro Miguel. When the canal was completed in 1914, ships no longer had to round Cape Horn to travel between the Atlantic and the Pacific oceans. This shortened the voyage between the east and west coasts of the United States by some 8,000 nautical miles.

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Bormay & Co., New York


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1 map : color ; 16 x 30 centimeters

Last updated: September 29, 2014