Nowadays the tiny country of Switzerland is one of the wealthiest and most famous nations on Earth. This was not always the case. For many hundreds of years, it struggled economically and was not well known. Switzerland is now well known for its banking system, its leading educational institutions, its excellent insurance companies and its extensive and highly precise train system. Behind all of this is the effort of one man: Alfred Escher (1819-1882).
Born into a wealthy and influential family and blessed with fantastic business acumen, he started planning the Swiss railway system in his early thirties. He then saw that the railway boom needed more technically trained people and encouraged the foundation of the Federal Polytechnic Institute. Today it is known as the ETH Zurich and is viewed as one of the best universities on the planet.
Railways also need money, so Escher also built the Schweizerische Kreditanstalt, which is now the Credit Suisse and still one of the biggest banks in the World. As if this wasn’t enough, he took on the Gotthard tunnel. This 9.32mi / 15k long tunnel created a bypass of the St.Gotthard Pass and shortened travel times from Southern Switzerland to Northern Switzerland immensely.
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By Unknown author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons