The New Panama City
22 March 2008 | Panama City
We took a tour of the three Panama Cities today.
The original Panama City, Panama Viejo, is little more than a pile of stones and mortar east of the modern Panama City. The pirate Henry Morgan sacked the original Panama City in 1671 and it subsequently burned to the proverbial ground. He sailed up the Rio Chagres from the Caribbean side and marched the final bit over land. Unfortunately for the city all of the defenses were aimed at the Pacific Ocean.
The second Panama City is known as the Casco Viejo and was built on the peninsula just west of modern Panama City. This was quite a place in the hey day of the canal's construction. The canal passes right along the old city's west bank. While there seem to be some efforts to bring the old city back, and it does have its quaint patches, it is mostly impoverished and in disrepair.
The new city is fairly modern and packed with tall buildings. An expansion project is underway to fill in a large swath of the Pacific Ocean on the west side of the water front highway. It seems a place where you can get just about anything, but like most big cities, has its good areas and its bad areas.
When the canal expands in 2014 it is certain that the importance of the city will grow.