The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) has chosen the Seven Wonders of the Modern World as a tribute to the greatest civil engineering achievements of the 20th century.

Founded in 1852, The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) is a professional body that represents members of the civil engineering profession around the world.

The list of Seven Wonders of the Modern World

1. Panama Canal (Panama), 1914

The Panama Canal is an artificial 82-kilometer (51 miles) waterway in Panama that connects the Atlantic Ocean with the Pacific Ocean. It greatly reduces the time for ships to travel between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Before its construction, ships had to sail all the way around Cape Horn to get from one ocean to the other – an additional 8,000 nautical miles (almost 15,000 km).

Some interesting Panama Canal facts

  • Canal locks at each end lift ships up to Gatun Lake, an artificial lake created to reduce the amount of excavation work required for the canal, 26 meters (85 feet) above sea level, and then lower the ships at the other end. Each lock has a huge gate at either end that holds the water.
  • Over 14,000 ships pass through Panama Canal each year.
  • In 2015 alone, over 340 million tonnes of goods passed through it – that number accounts for almost 6 percent of the world trade.
  • The Pacific entrance of the Panama Canal is farther East than the Atlantic entrance.
  • Before the U.S. constructed the canal, there was a French attempt between 1881 and 1894. This effort went bankrupt in 1889 after reportedly spending US$287,000,000; an estimated 22,000 workers died from disease and accidents, and the savings of 800,000 investors were lost.
  • About 5,600 workers also died of disease and accidents during the US construction phase of the canal.
  • From its opening in 1914 until 1979, the Panama Canal was controlled solely by the United States, which built it. In 1979, control of the canal passed to the Panama Canal Commission, a joint agency of the United States and the Republic of Panama, and complete control was passed to Panama on December 31, 1999. Today, the canal brings in around 2 billion dollars a year in revenue for the Panama treasury.
How do huge ships cross mountains? Who built the Panama Canal, one of the seven wonders of the modern world? And how much did it cost? Join Liv Boree as she visits the enormous Panama Canal to understand the engineering and story behind one of the seven wonders of the modern world.

2. Empire State Building (New York), 1931

The 102-story Empire State Building was built from 1930 to 1931. Its name is derived from the nickname of the state of New York – “Empire State”.

With a roof height of 1,250 feet (380 meters) and a total height of 1,454 feet (443.2 meters, including its antenna), it stood as the world’s tallest building until the construction of the World Trade Center in 1970.

It was also the first building in the world to contain over 100 floors.

Following the World Trade Center’s collapse during the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the Empire State Building was again the city’s tallest skyscraper until 2012.

As of January 2020, it is the seventh-tallest building in New York City, the ninth-tallest skyscraper in the United States, and the 49th-tallest building in the world.

Seven Wonders of the Modern World: Empire State Building.
Seven Wonders of the Modern World: Empire State Building. By Sam Valadi –, CC BY 2.0, Link

3. Golden Gate Bridge (San Francisco), 1937

Seven Wonders of the Modern World: Golden Gate Bridge (San Fransisco)
Seven Wonders of the Modern World: Golden Gate Bridge (San Fransisco)

One of the most iconic bridges in the world, the Golden Gate Bridge is a suspension bridge spanning the Golden Gate, the one-mile-wide (1.6 km) strait connecting San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean. The structure links the American city of San Francisco, California – the northern tip of the San Francisco Peninsula – to Marin County, carrying both U.S. Route 101 and California State Route 1 across the strait.

The bridge is one of the most internationally recognized symbols of San Francisco, California, and the United States. At the time of its opening in 1937, it was both the longest and the tallest suspension bridge in the world with a main span of 4,200 feet (1,280 meters) and a total height of 746 feet (227 meters). It was surpassed by the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge (New York City) in 1964.

As of January 2021, it is the 18th longest suspension bridge in the world. The longest suspension bridge is the Akashi Kaikyō Bridge in Japan, with a main span of 1,991 meters (6,532.2 feet), which opened in 1998.

4. Netherlands North Sea Protection Works (Netherlands), 1954-1997

The Netherlands North Sea Protection Works, officially known as the Delta Works is a series of construction projects to protect the Netherlands from the sea. The works consist of dams, sluices, locks, dykes, levees, and storm surge barriers.

Seven Wonders of the Modern World: Oosterscheldekering
Seven Wonders of the Modern World: One of the three movable barrier sections of the Oosterscheldekering during a storm. By Rens Jacobs / Beeldbank V&W. – Transferred from en.Wikipedia to Commons by User: Orionist using CommonsHelper., Attribution, Link

5. CN Tower (Toronto), 1976

A signature icon of Toronto’s skyline, The CN Tower is a 553.3 meter-high (1,815.3 feet) concrete communications and observation tower located in Downtown Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Its name “CN” originally referred to Canadian National, the railway company that built the tower.

Annually around 2 million tourists visit the tower.

Seven Wonders of the Modern World:
Seven Wonders of the Modern World: CN Tower. By Wladyslaw, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

6. Itaipu Dam (Brazil/Paraguay), 1984

A binational undertaking run by Brazil and Paraguay at the Paraná River on the border section between the two countries, the Itaipu Dam is a huge hydroelectric dam on the Paraná River located on border between Brazil and Paraguay.

Its hydroelectric power plant was the largest operating hydroelectric facility in terms of annual energy generation until 2020. After the extensive monsoon rainfalls of 2020, the Three Gorges Dam’s (China) annual production reached ~112 TWh, breaking the previous world record of ~103 TWh set by Itaipu Dam in 2016.

Seven Wonders of the Modern World: Itaipu Dam
Seven Wonders of the Modern World: Itaipu Dam. By Jonas de CarvalhoFlickr, CC BY-SA 2.0, Link

7. Channel Tunnel (England & France), 1994

Also referred to as the Eurotunnel or Chunnel, the Channel Tunnel is a railway tunnel that connects Folkestone (Kent, England, UK) with Coquelles (Hauts-de-France, France) beneath the English Channel at the Strait of Dover. The length of the tunnel is 50.45 kilometers (31.35 miles). The only fixed link between the island of Great Britain and the European mainland, the Channel Tunnel was opened on May 6, 1994.

The length of the underwater section of the tunnel is 37.9 kilometers (23.5 miles), which is the longest underwater section of any tunnel in the world. At its lowest point, it is 75 meters (250 feet) deep below the sea bed and 115 meters (380 feet) below sea level.

7 wonders of the modern world: The Channel tunnel
The Channel Tunnel is a railway tunnel that connects the United Kingdom with France beneath the English Channel at the Strait of Dover. Image Source: Deposit Photos


M. Özgür Nevres

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.