The Bridge of the Americas, or the Puente de las Americas, or as it was originally called, the Thatcher Ferry Bridge, is an enormous road bridge located in Panama City, which spans the entrance to the Panama Canal / Pacific Ocean.
This magnificent structure was completed in 1962 and was the only NON-SWINGING (oh my goodness just thinking of a swinging road bridge makes us anxious) that connects North and South America until 2004 when the Centennial Bridge was completed.
It is located at Balboa, just near Panama City, and was built by the United States at a cost of 20 million U.S. dollars. It is a key part of the Pan-American highway, and has played a large role in world trade as road traffic through the canal increased. It carried some 9,500 vehicles per day during its beginning and by 2004 that figure had expanded to 35,000 vehicles per day. At that point, planning officials realized there was a great need for another bridge, and Centennial Bridge was constructed to alleviate some of the bottlenecking that was occurring with traffic going over the Bridge of the Americas.
Much like other projects of the Panama Canal construction, the bridge has seen its fair share of protests and dramatic political discourse over the decades. It was to be named the Thatcher Ferry Bridge, after the original ferry that crossed the canal near where the bridge was constructed. The ferry itself, was named for Maurice H. Thatcher, a former member of the canal commission, who had called for legislation to create the ferry. Thatcher was able to cut the tape at the opening of the bridge, however, the name was very unpopular with the government officials in Panama, who preferred the name, “Bridge of the Americas”. The Panamanian officials won the debate and the name was debated by their National Assembly in 1962, just 10 days after the bridge opened. It remained legally named the Thatcher Ferry Bridge until Panamanian control took over in 1979. Postage stamps were even issued showing the engineering marvel with the name, “Thatcher Ferry Bridge”. What’s more peculiar, is Thatcher Ferry Bridge stamps have become even more rare and sought after by stamp collectors because of their known error on one sheet where the bridge is visibly missing – oops!
One can spot Casco Viejo from the Bridge of the Americas, especially on a clear, sunny day. Located within Casco is Magnolia Inn in Casco Viejo, a well-appointed, luxury boutique hotel and hostel in Panama City, Panama. In addition to being one of the best reviewed hotels and hostels in Casco Viejo by Trip Advisor, Booking.com and Hostel Word, Magnolia Inn is conveniently located near a variety of attractions. In Panama City, these include:
- the Panama Canal
- the Panama Canal Museum
- the jungle around Gatun Lake
- Monkey Island
- Amador Causeway
- Frank Gehry's Biomuseo
- the Bridge of the Americas
- Avenida Balboa
In Casco Viejo, these include: