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.
The idea of a canal eliminating the costly and dangerous sea trip around the Massachusetts peninsula of Cape Cod was envisioned as early as 1623 by Pilgrim leader Miles Standish. It was not until financier August Belmont became involved in 1906, however, that sufficient funds for the project could be raised. Belmont had been the primary backer of New York City's first subway, and chose the subway's chief engineer, William Barclay Parsons, as the canal's project director.