panama country of panama bridge of the americas panama city tourism travel bridge of the americas panama canal
panama country of panama bridge of the americas panama city tourism travelWith an elevation of 118 meters (354 ft.) and width of 1,669 meters (5,007 ft.), the Bridge of the Americas connects the two land masses separated due to the construction of The Panama Canal. Built by the United States, at a cost of $20 million dollars, the Bridge of the Americas now forms an integral part of the Interamerican Highway, connecting both North and South America.

Prior to it's construction, ferry service was provided for approximately 30 years, and was the principal means of transportation between the eastern and western portions of the province. Even today, docks on both sides of the canal are clearly visible and serve as a reminder of what once was.

With gravel in hand, the ceremony celebrating the commemoration the Thatcher Ferry Bridge, as it was known at that time, took place on December 23, 1958. At this ceremony, United States Ambassador Mr. Julian Harrington and Panamanian President Mr. Ernesto de la Guardia Jr. were present, as well as numerous other dignitaries. The actual physical construction began on October 12, 1959, and took nearly two and one half years to complete. Inauguration took place on October 12, 1962, during which time gold metals and other commemorative items were distributed.

While it is currently referred to as the Bridge of the Americas, it was originally named after Mr. Maurice H. Thatcher, who cut the tape during the inauguration services. Few if any now refer to the bridge by this name.

On the western side of the bridge, just after joining the highway, there is a rest stop / look out station situated on the right side. One can get reasonably good photographs from here, however, the angle is not great, as you are looking back alongside the bridge. We recommend visiting "El Amador", which was a US Army Base prior to the transfer of the Panama Canal in December 1999. From El Amador, which is situated below the bridge, you will have a broad view of the bridge, as well as the Balboa Yacht Club. Throughout the day numerous vessels pass under the bridge, either entering or departing The Panama Canal. From downtown Panama City, it shouldn't cost you more than $3.00 in a taxi to reach either El Amador or the look out on the far side of the bridge.

For more information regarding the Bridge of the Americas we recommend you visit the Panama Canal Museum in Casco Viejo, as they have several photographs reflecting back on the construction phase, as well as written literature.