Perham Wilhelm Nahl, The Thirteenth Labor of Hercules (1915)

Perham Nahl’s official poster for the Panama Pacific International Exposition casts the achievement of creating the Panama Canal in heroic, classical terms. The land is forced apart, created the canal and revealing the “Sunset City” of San Francisco’s exposition in the background. 

Americans were especially proud of the achievement, both because it provided a much shorter and more convenient route between the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, but also because two world-famous French engineers — Gustave Eiffel and Ferdinand de Lesseps — had earlier tried and failed to complete the project.