Saturday, May 18, 2013

History of the El Panama Hotel and surronding area

History of El Panama

Back in 1946, Panama was a quiet, uneventful city, having less than a million inhabitants and a social life that was nearly non-existent as compared to the activity of current day. At that time, a group of visionary businessmen decided to buy a plot of land of more than 60 hectares in the area known as “El Cangrejo,” — land owned by a Panamanian lady who resided in Paris. 

These businessmen bought this land for a ridiculously low price — quoted at 0.10 or 0.15 cents per meter. At that time, the President of Panama was Mr. Enrique Jimenez, who upon hearing of these negotiations, asked the buyers to donate part of this large terrain to create what is now the University of Panama.

He also asked them to sell six of their best acres to a company named “Hotel Interamericanos” in the best location at a cost of 0.50 cents per meter. This became the corner of the area where the first large hotel at that time would be built: El Panama.

Approximately $6 million dollars was the total investment to build this hotel, plus $900,000 as the initial working capital. American architect Edmond D. Stone, renowned for his remarkable designs of several buildings around the world, started this project, while Engineer Fred Severand, a Norwegian naturalized American citizen, took charge of the construction. 

Eventually, Stone was recognized with the gold medal for design in the 55th annual exhibition organized by the Architectural League of New York for Hotel El Panama.

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