|This article does not cite any references or sources. (July 2010)|
Cornelis Lely in 1913
23 September 1854|
|Died||22 January 1929
The Hague, Netherlands
|Alma mater||Delft University of Technology|
|Occupation||Civil engineer, Governor-General of Suriname|
|Notable work(s)||Zuiderzee Works|
Cornelis Lely (born 23 September 1854 in Amsterdam; died 22 January 1929 in The Hague) was a Dutch civil engineer and statesman. He oversaw the passage of an act of parliament authorizing construction of the Zuiderzee Works, a huge project – designed to his own plans – that turned the Zuiderzee into a lake and made possible the conversion of a vast area of former seabed into dry land.
Between 1886 and 1891, Lely led the technical research team that explored the possibility, later approved by a State Commission, of enclosing the Zuiderzee. Lely was three times Minister of Transport and Water Management (in 1891-1894, 1897-1901, and 1913-1918) and in this role was hugely influential in advocating the implementation of his own plans. The scheme was finally approved and realized after severe flooding along the shores of the Zuiderzee in 1916.
The city of Lelystad, situated in the Eastern Flevoland polder and capital of Flevoland province, was named after him. The flags of the province and of the city are both adorned with a white fleur-de-lys to note his contribution.
In Suriname, where Lely was Governor-General from 1902 to 1905, the village of Kofi Djompo was renamed Lelydorp in his honour; Lely having led the construction of a new railway from Paramaribo that ran through the area. Most of the railway has now gone, but Lelydorp survives and is now the capital of Wanica District. It lies on the road from Paramaribo to Johan Adolf Pengel International Airport.
A statue of Lely stands on the western point of the Afsluitdijk. It was sculpted by Mari Andriessen and dedicated on 23 September 1954, the 100th anniversary of Lely's birth. A replica of this statue stands in the center of Lelystad, on a 35-metre (115 ft) high tower of basalt blocks, designed by Hans van Houwelingen. In Lelystad's city hall is a statue of Lely made by Piet Esser.