Valparaiso and Curacavi - Two cities forever changed in Chile

 

 Valparaiso and Curacavi - Two cities forever changed in Chile I was recently in Chile on a business trip and had some free time on the weekend to take a trip to the coast side cities of Vina Del Mar and Valparaiso. During the trip, the tour guide told us about 2 cities that changed forever because of the innovation. The innovation of faster travel and the building of the Panama Canal. The two towns that were affected were Curacavi and Valparaiso, both less than 150 kms from the capital, Santiago.

Curacavi - Curacavi is a little town that lies between Santiago and Valparaiso. Before the advent of cars and trains, the travelers would travel on horse driven carts that would take between 2-3 days to cover the 100 kilometer distance. On the way, Curacavi was an important stop for the travelers to have food and an overnight stay. This city flourished because of these travelers who were going back and forth between Valparaiso and Santiago. With the advent of the car and trains, the travel times were reduced to hours and no one stopped at Curacavi  any more. This city was devastated by this and has never recovered from this. Today the valley of Curacavi is used for wine producing and has regained a bit but will probably never see the glory days again.

 

Valparaiso - Valparaiso is a port city about 100 kilometers south of Santiago. Before the Panama Canal was built, Valparaiso was an important port because all ships that had to go from the Pacific to the Atlantic would dock at Valparaiso. The ships typically had to go to Cape Horn to get around the continent of South America. The town flourished because of fact that there was no way to get around the continent. When you visit the city, you can see that the town was really well off in the past. The port has some old and impressive looking buildings and you can sense that this was a flourishing town. In 1914, the US opened up the Panama Canal which allowed most of the ships to go through Panama thereby cutting the number of ships coming to Valparaiso significantly. This city too was devastated by this. Today, Valparaiso is still an important port and many cruise lines use this city as a starting point for their South American cruises. However, its probably a shadow of its former self.

The Panama Canal, Suez Canal, advent of faster travel must have had devastating impacts on many cities and it was fascinating to think and see the impact. Fortunately, these are not ghost towns and continue to live. I wonder how future innovation may impact some major city in the world today. Will planes of tomorrow be able to fly longer distances thereby eliminating or reducing traffic to some of the major hubs. Will high speed rail have an impact on air travel? Something to think about.