Colón, Panama

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This article is about the city in Panama. For the province, see Colon Province.
Colon
Skyline of Colon
Colon is located in Panama
Colon
Colon
Coordinates: 9°21′26″N 79°53′55″W / 9.35722°N 79.89861°W / 9.35722; -79.89861
Country  Panama
Province Colon Province
Elevation 9 m (30 ft)
Population (2010)
 • City 78,000
 • Metro 241,928
Website colon.municipios.gob.pa

Colón is a sea port on the Caribbean Sea (Atlantic) coast of Panama. The city lies near the Caribbean Sea entrance to the Panama Canal. It is the capital of Panama's Colón Province and has traditionally been known as Panama's second city. Colón was originally located entirely on Manzanillo Island, surrounded by Limon Bay, Manzanillo Bay, and the Folks River. Since the disestablishment of the Canal Zone, the city's limits have been redefined to include the former Canal Zone towns of Cristobal, Rainbow City, Margarita, and Coco Solo, as well as the former U.S. Army base of Fort Gulick.

History[edit]

Colón between 1910 and 1920

The city was founded by Americans in 1850 as the Atlantic terminus of the Panama Railroad, then under construction to meet the gold rush demand for a fast route to California. For a number of years early in its history, the sizable United States émigré community called the town Aspinwall after Panama Railroad promoter William Henry Aspinwall, while the city's Hispanic community called it Colon, in honor of Christopher Columbus. The city was founded on the western end of a treacherously marshy islet known as Manzanillo Island. As part of the construction of the Panama Railroad, the island was connected to the Panamanian mainland by a causeway and part of the island was drained to allow the erection of permanent buildings.

Much of the city was burned during a Colombian civil war in 1885, and again in a massive fire in 1915.

Fort De Lesseps[edit]

Main article: Fort De Lesseps

Fort De Lesseps was a small U.S. Army Coast Artillery Corps fort located at the northern tip of the city. It was named after Ferdinand de Lesseps.

Since 1948[edit]

In 1948, the southeastern corner of Manzanillo Island was designated as the Colón Free Trade Zone. The Free Trade Zone has since been expanded through land reclamation on the Folks River and annexation of parts of France Field (now Enrique Adolfo Jiménez Airport) and Coco Solo.

During its heyday, Colon was home to dozens of nightclubs, cabarets, and movie theaters. It was known for its citizens' civic pride, orderly appearance, and outstanding native sons and daughters. Politically instigated riots in the 1960s destroyed the city's beautiful municipal palace and signaled the start of the city's decline, which was further accelerated by the military dictatorships of Omar Torrijos and Manuel Noriega from 1968 to 1987.

Since the late 1960s, Colon has been in serious economic and social decline. In recent times, the unemployment rate has hovered around 40%, and the poverty rate is even higher. Drug addiction and poverty have contributed to crime and violence, which successive Panamanian governments have not addressed effectively.

Climate[edit]

Colon has a tropical monsoon climate with heavy rainfall from May to December.

Climate data for Colon
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 29
(84)
29
(84)
29
(85)
30
(86)
31
(87)
30
(86)
29
(85)
29
(85)
31
(87)
30
(86)
29
(84)
29
(84)
29.6
(85.3)
Average low °C (°F) 24
(76)
24
(76)
24
(76)
25
(77)
24
(76)
24
(75)
24
(75)
24
(75)
24
(75)
23
(74)
23
(74)
24
(75)
23.9
(75.3)
Precipitation mm (inches) 109
(4.3)
50
(2)
36
(1.4)
94
(3.7)
274
(10.8)
368
(14.5)
419
(16.5)
417
(16.4)
292
(11.5)
467
(18.4)
620
(24.4)
320
(12.6)
3,466
(136.5)
Source: Weatherbase [1]

Population[edit]

In 1900, the population was some 3,000 people. It grew significantly with the building of the Panama Canal, and was 31,203 in 1920. In 2000, it had a population of about 204,000 people.

With the city's economic decline, many of its upper- and middle-class residents left, reducing its ethnic diversity. Formerly vibrant European and American expatriate communities, as well as Panamanians of Greek, Italian, Jewish, Chinese, and South Asian heritage, abandoned the city, moving to Panama City, to former Canal Zone towns, and overseas.

Today, sizable South Asian and Arab communities live in the remaining prosperous areas of the city, as well as in gated communities outside it. The majority of the city's population is of West Indian or mixed mestizo-hispanic ancestry.

Colón was home to some of the best-educated and most well-heeled Panamanians families of West Indian heritage, such as the Drews, the Fords, the Moodys, the Robinsons, the Beebys, the Archibolds, the Edwards, the Crowns, the Hoys, the Warehams, the Abrahams, and the Mckintoshs [citation needed]. From these families sprang the teachers, professors, doctors, lawyers, engineers, businessmen, and politicians that contributed to the city's prosperity [citation needed]. Most of them eventually left the city for the United States or the United Kingdom. However, their influence can still be seen by the descendants that remain in the province.

Colon was also home to Las Amigas de la Caridad ("Women of Charity"), a charitable organization of women of Caribbean descent. The organization met largely in the home of Gladys Booth Ford and her stepdaughter Ruby Ford Drew at Calle 7 and Avenida Sta. Isabel. Ruby Drew was a long-standing member of Christ Church by the Sea.

Colón's Christ Church by the Sea, 2003

Notable Colonites[edit]

Arts, sciences, and politics[edit]

Athletes[edit]

Images of Colón[edit]

View from the park 
Vibrantly painted dwellings 
The northern point of town 
Panama's own 'Megan Star' 
Panorama of Colón entrance of the canal.
Colón entrance to the Panama Canal.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Weatherbase: Historical Weather for Colon, Panama". Weatherbase. 2011.  Retrieved on November 24, 2011.
  2. ^ Dobbs, Michael (2008-05-20). "The Fact Checker: John McCain's Birthplace". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2010-02-11. 
  3. ^ "mlb.com: MLB All-Century Team". Retrieved 26 March 2011. 
  4. ^ "George Headley". espncricinfo. Retrieved 26 August 2012. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Mellander, Gustavo A.; Nelly Maldonado Mellander (1999). Charles Edward Magoon: The Panama Years. Río Piedras, Puerto Rico: Editorial Plaza Mayor. ISBN 1-56328-155-4. OCLC 42970390. 
  • Mellander, Gustavo A. (1971). The United States in Panamanian Politics: The Intriguing Formative Years. Danville, Ill.: Interstate Publishers. OCLC 138568. 
  • Military Railroads on the Panama Canal Zone by Charles S. Small, Railroad monographs 1982

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 09°21′26″N 79°53′55″W / 9.35722°N 79.89861°W / 9.35722; -79.89861