The Panama Canal is a man-made waterway that connects the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. It was built between 1904 and 1914 by the United States government. The canal creates a shortcut for ships traveling between the two oceans, bypassing the need to travel around the southern tip of South America. This allows for faster and safer shipping. The canal also contributes to Panama’s economy by collecting revenue from ship tolls.

The construction of the Panama Canal greatly increased American trade and commerce, but was not without controversy. During the Canal’s early years many Americans feared that the canal would lead to increased competition and reduced jobs. These fears were allayed by the Canal’s efficiency and profitability.

By 1914, the Panama Canal was fully open and making ocean voyages between the Atlantic and Pacific more efficient than ever before. The SS Ancon made the first official ocean-to-ocean transit of the Canal on August 15, 1914.

It took a significant amount of capital to construct the canal and maintain it in the early years. The Canal Authority had to build and rebuild housing, cafeterias, repair shops, hotels, water systems, and other infrastructure for thousands of workers who were recruited from around the world.

Many of these workers were African American, and they faced discrimination and even prejudice in the Canal Zone, despite official canal policy to the contrary. It wasn’t until the 1970s that African Americans had real equality in the Canal Zone, and even then they were not as successful as their white counterparts.