Rare chromolithographic birds eye view of the early French Plan to build the Panama Canal, published by Ch. Bouret of Paris and Mexico City, lithographed in Paris by Monrocq, based upon artwork by Deroy.
The view of the proposed canal is shown from the northwest, with Colon and Chagres in the foreground and Panama City at the top of the map. It depicts the proposed sea-level canal, as planned by the French company that was first charged with constructing the project. Various aspects of the plan are labelled by number and described on the key below. In 1881, a consortium headed by Ferdinand Lesseps (who successfully completed the Suez Canal in 1869) began construction of a canal that was to directly connect the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans at sea-level, with no locks. This included digging deep chasms throughoult mountainous, jungle-clad terrain. The available technology and equipment were not equal to the task. Even more problematic, over the next 13 years, yellow fever and malaria would claim the lives of 22,000 workers. The company racked up over $287 million in costs (an astounding sum in the late 19th-century), and by 1894 the French were forced to abandon the project.
In 1904, the U.S. Government would take over the endeavor, constructing a canal raised over the landscape, involving artifical lakes and locks, which was successfully completed in 1914.
The present view was issued in both Paris and Mexico City with Spanish text, likely for the purpose of promoting the venture to potential Spanish and Latin American investors. This view is rare, we have not been able to find any bibliographic references or records of sale.