is the second largest city in Panama, at the Caribbean end of the Panama Canal. Colón was surrounded by, but not part of, the former Panama Canal Zone. Colón is an important port, commercial center, and tourist destination. It was made a free trade zone in 1953 and is the world’s second largest duty-free port. The city was founded in 1850 by Americans working on the Panama railroad and was named Aspinwall after one of the builders of the railway until 1890. Colón is the Spanish form of Columbus; the name of the neighboring port of Cristóbal is Spanish for Christopher. After completion of the railway in 1855, Colón overshadowed the older Caribbean ports of Panama, and with the first plans for the isthmian canal it took on additional prestige. Built on a swampy island, the city was notoriously unhealthful and often scourged by yellow fever until Colónel William C. Gorgas, in charge of sanitation during the canal construction, gave it a new system of waterworks and sewerage and drained the surrounding swamps.
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