The Top Ten Public Works Projects of the Century (in no particular order)

The Bay Area Rapid transit District (BART)

The Grand Coulee Dam & Columbia River Basin Project

Tennesse Valley Project

The Panama Canal

Interstate Highway System

The Reversal of the Chicago River

The Hoover Dam - Boulder Canyon

St. Lawrence Seaway/Power Project

Hyperion Treatment Plant

Golden Gate Bridge

Please click on the logo at the top of each page to return to this contents page.

APWA developed the Top Ten Public Works Projects of the Century Program to honor the ten most outstanding public works projects of the 20th Century that significantly affected and improved the quality of life in the United States or Canada. Our goal was to generate awareness of the positive contributions public works has made as well as to build appreciation for public works and its contributions to North America. We think we have been successful!

The program considered public works contributions from projects of all sizes and agencies of all levels of government within the United States, Canada, and their territories. Projects did not still need to be in existence or actively used to be eligible.

Criteria Used in the Selection
The primary criterion used in the selection of these winners was the significance of the project's effect on the quality of life. Other criteria that were used during the selection included:

  • an assessment of the improvements and advancement the project provided, as well as how well the project addressed public needs and met the defined objectives.
  • the degree of difficulty that designers, builders, or operators overcame in the design, construction, or operation of the project.
  • the circumstances that existed during the era in which they occurred.
  • the use of innovative or pioneering techniques, materials, management systems, or operating approaches. Consideration was given to projects that represented a "first of its kind
    or where the profession and industry standards were advanced.
  • awareness and protection of the natural and social environment.

Not only is this a celebration of past accomplishments, but an illustration of our potential to create extraordinary public works projects for future generations. We welcome you to read on to see what APWA selected as the 20th Century's Top Public Works Projects. These ten exemplary projects are listed on the following pages in no certain order.


American Public Works Association
2345 Grand Boulevard, Suite 500,
Kansas City, MO 64108-2641
Phone: (816) 472-6100
Fax: (816) 472-1610

American Public Works Association
Washington Office

1401 K Street, NW, 11th Floor,
Washington, D.C. 20005
Phone: (202) 408-9541
Fax: (202) 408-9542