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The Erie Canal is a 363-mile waterway the connects the good Lakes with the Atlantic ocean via the Hudson river in upstate brand-new York. The channel, i beg your pardon traverses brand-new York state from Albany come Buffalo top top Lake Erie, was taken into consideration an design marvel as soon as it an initial opened in 1825. The Erie Canal provided a straight water path from new York City to the Midwest, triggering large commercial and agricultural development—as well together immigration—to the sparsely inhabited frontiers that western new York, Ohio, Indiana, Michigan and also points farther west. The canal transformed brand-new York City into the young nation’s economic powerhouse, and also in 2000 the U.S. Congress designated the Erie Canal a national Heritage Corridor.

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Early explorers in America had long searched for a water path from eastern Coast populace centers to the resource-rich floor of the Midwest and an excellent Lakes.


The Northwest Territory—which later on would come to be the says of Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin—had timber, minerals, furs and fertile land for farming, but the Appalachian hills stood in the way.


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Throughout the 18th and also early 19th centuries, it took weeks to with these resources overland. Bulk transportation of goods was limited by what teams of oxen could pull by wagon. The lack of an efficient transportation network border populations and trade to seaside areas.


Jesse Hawley

Beginning in 1807, Jesse Hawley—a flour vendor from western brand-new York who went damaged trying to obtain his product to industry in the Atlantic seaside cities—published a series of essays from debtor’s prison. In them, Hawley supported for a canal device that would certainly span virtually 400 miles from Buffalo, new York, ~ above the east shore the Lake Erie, come Albany, new York, ~ above the Hudson River.


Hawley’s eloquent essays recorded the fist of new York politicians, including new York City mayor DeWitt Clinton. Clinton believed that the canal was crucial to the economic advance of his city.

Clinton observed his arrangement come to fruition in 1817 ~ he became the branch of brand-new York. Workers very first broke floor on the Erie Canal ~ above July 4, 1817, near Utica, new York.

An Unprecedented engineering Feat

The building and construction of the Erie Canal, with mountainous terrain and dense rock confirmed as complicated as the politics environment.


Throughout construction, Dewitt Clinton’s political enemies ridiculed the project as “Clinton’s Folly” or “Clinton’s ditch.”

It take it canal laborers—some ireland immigrants, but most U.S.-born men—eight year to complete the project. They cleared the land by hand and also animal power and also blasted with rock through gunpowder. (Dynamite wasn’t designed until the 1860s by sweden scientist Alfred Nobel.)

The initial Erie Canal was just 4 feet deep and also 40 feet wide, though it was thought about a major engineering feat at the moment of its perfect in 1825. That traversed practically 400 mile of fields, forests, and rocky cliffs, and also contained 83 locks—structures offered for raising and lowering boats in between canal stretches with various water levels.


Project designers had small experience structure canals. The army academy in ~ West allude in brand-new York readily available the only formal engineering program in phibìc America at the moment the Erie Canal was built.

The project noted practical schooling because that a brand-new generation that American engineers and builders, and led come the establishing of the nation’s first civil engineering school, Rensselaer Polytechnic institute (RPI) in Troy, new York, in 1824.

Erie Canal designers devised brand-new equipment to uproot trees and stumps and invented the very first cement that could set and harden underwater.


Erie Canal’s economic Impacts

The Erie Canal opened up on October 26, 1825. A fleet the boats, led by governor Dewitt Clinton board the Seneca cook sailed native Buffalo to brand-new York City in document time—just ten days.

The canal transformed new York City into the commercial resources it continues to be today. Prior to the canal’s construction, the port of Boston, Philadelphia and brand-new Orleans outranked new York in size.

But the building of the Erie Canal gave new York City (via the Hudson River) straight water access to the great Lakes and regions that the Midwest. Together the gateway to this resource-rich lands, new York soon ended up being the nation’s financial epicenter and the primary port the entry to the United claims for european immigrants.

New York City’s population quadrupled in between 1820 and also 1850. Financing of the Erie Canal’s construction allowed the city to eclipse Philadelphia together the country’s most essential banking center.

The Erie Canal also detailed an economic an increase to the whole United says by permitting the transfer of products at one-tenth the previous expense in less than half the ahead time. Through 1853, the Erie Canal carried 62 percent of all U.S. Trade.

For the very first time, manufactured items such together furniture and also clothing could be shipped in mass to the frontier.


Farmers in western new York and the Midwest now had actually cash come purchase consumer goods, because they could much more cheaply delivery wheat, corn and other plants to profitable East shore markets.

The Erie Canal additionally helped to stimulate America’s nascent travel industry. It attractive vacationers, including Europeans such as Charles Dickens. Countless tourists floated under the canal top top excursions from brand-new York City to Niagara Falls.

Impact on aboriginal Americans

The structure of the Erie Canal and also subsequent population explosion follow me its route accelerated the dispossession—or removal—of native Americans in western brand-new York and also the upper Midwest.

The Erie Canal traversed the genealogical homelands of numerous groups, consisting of the Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga and also Seneca.

From the early on years the the canal era come the optimal of new York’s canal eight in the 1840s and 1850s, state and also federal policies supported the removed of native populations from arising portions of new York.

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Native americans were sent out to bookings in isolated sections of brand-new York and other east States. Rather were sent to unfamiliar outlying regions in the American Midwest.