With the discoveries of South Africa's diamonds in the 1860s and gold in the 1880s, immigrants flooded into Cape Town and changed it into a major commercial center. Unfortunately, its water supply had not kept pace with the population growth. After several droughts and years of inadequate water supply, the Woodhead Tunnel was constructed between 1887 and 1891. When it failed to solve the water shortage problem, the Municipality of Cape Town determined that a dam and reservoir needed to be built.
The Turbinia was the world's first turbine-driven ship. It attracted worldwide attention at the 1897 Spithead Naval Review by traveling more than 34 knots. This remarkable performance accelerated the acceptance of the steam turbine as an alternative to the steam reciprocating engine on ships as well as for central electric light and power stations. Sir Charles A. Parsons (1854-1931) invented (1884), developed, and promoted the steam turbine, as well as the design of the Turbinia. For this, he is considered among the outstanding technological innovators of all time.
By the 1890s, the transportation infrastructure of downtown Boston - a maze of narrow, winding streets laid out, in some cases, along Colonial cow paths - proved completely inadequate for the needs of a modern, bustling metropolis. Tremont Street, the city's main thoroughfare, was regularly subject to gridlock from a convergence of foot traffic, horse-drawn conveyances, trolley lines, and electric streetcars. To rectify the problem, the Boston Transit Commission, with Howard A. Carson as chief engineer, was created in 1894 to study remedies.