In this, the very FIRST EPISODE of Measured in Metric, we explore the Panama Canal. Many still regard this project as one of the most impressive feats of engineering in the modern world, but its complicated legacy covers issues of worker’s rights, colonialism, economic ethics, national sovereignty, and environmentalism. We also get to talk about trains for a little bit, which is Vivian’s jam.
Join us as we celebrate the defeats, the triumphs, and the reckonings associated with a world marvel centuries in the making!
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Here’s a great graphic from a January 22, 1921 publishing of Scientific American that shows just how much travelling distance is shortened by the Panama Canal. Notice how New York to San Francisco was shortened by more than half!
Remember that the Canal was completed in 1914, so by the 1920s, people were still just marveling at the ingenuity and benefits that the Canal is providing. Notably in a 1925 edition of the The Military Engineer where a front page column celebrates the monumental achievement of the Canal and ends with “We are doing more than an engineering job with our dredges and dams. We are building and reshap-ing the industrial life of the nation. On a tiresome overtime evening at the office, it is worth while to remember this.” Indeed, next time you find yourself staring late into the night at a CAD drawing, remember the Panama Canal!