The construction of the Corinth Maritime Canal: a gigantic jobsite

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This photo from 1882-1890 shows the workers of the Société Internationale du Canal Maritime de Corinthe (Greece) in the process of carrying out the earthwork. We see that there are lots of workers, as the work mobilised up to 2000 people spread over the 4 jobsites on Isthmus of Corinth.

The Comptoir d’Escompte de Paris, lead bank in financing the work

The reason for constructing the Corinth Maritime Canal was the need to reduce the travel time to go from the Adriatic Sea to the Aegean Sea. It was in this context that French engineers and a Hungarian born general naturalised Italian, Istvan Türr, carried out a geological study and developed the cutting scenario for the canal. In 1881, the Greek government awarded the project to General Türr and granted him a 99-year lease. A French company founded in 1882, the Société Internationale du Canal Maritime de Corinthe, took on the project management and planned the operations over 5 years. It then called on the Comptoir d’Escompte de Paris to help it raise the necessary funds to finance the work and its capital. In April-May 1882 the Comptoir d’Escompte de Paris managed the initial public offering to constitute the required capital for the Société Internationale du Canal Maritime de Corinthe. It the Comptoir d’Escompte was the lead bank in France for this project’s financing, with the precious help of the the merchant bankers Edouard Kohn and Jacques de Reinach, other financial institutions like the Crédit Mobilier Italien or the National Bank of Greece also participated. The work in the Isthmus of Corinth began between May 1882 and December 1883. After the complications related to the geology of the land and the financial difficulties (dissolution of the Société Internationale du Canal Maritime de Corinthe), the canal was finally inaugurated in 1893.

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