|The Marble Boat|
OK, here is where I get overwhelmed by the math. One credible source says she stole 30 million taels of silver to pay for the project, which also included work around Longevity Hill at the Beijing historical site.
From research, I learned that a tael is 1.3 ounces of silver, so that would work out to 39 million ounces of silver.
Back then, at least in the United States, silver had a set value of $1.29 per ounce, though the market value was somewhere around 60 cents an ounce. If I have done my math correctly, that works out to $22.4 million. I cannot imagine any construction project costing that much money back then, even if the project did take five years to complete.
But wait: It gets better. The price of silver today is about $42 an ounce, give or take a few dimes. Multiply $42 by 39 million, and the figure is an astronomical $1,638 trillion. Someone please tell tell me I didn't do the math right.
By contract, the Chinese government spent only $17.7 million to renovate the Summer Palace and two other major parks for the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics.
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