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The Erie Canal is a 363-mile waterway that connects the an excellent Lakes through the Atlantic ocean via the Hudson river in upstate brand-new York. The channel, i m sorry traverses brand-new York state native Albany to Buffalo top top Lake Erie, was taken into consideration an design marvel as soon as it first opened in 1825. The Erie Canal noted a straight water route from new York City to the Midwest, triggering large-scale commercial and agricultural development—as well together immigration—to the sparsely populated frontiers the western new York, Ohio, Indiana, Michigan and points farther west. The canal transformed brand-new York City right into the young nation’s economic powerhouse, and also in 2000 the U.S. Congress designated the Erie Canal a nationwide Heritage Corridor.

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Early explorers in America had long searched for a water course from east Coast populace centers come the resource-rich floor of the Midwest and great Lakes.


The Northwest Territory—which later on would end up being the says of Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois and also Wisconsin—had timber, minerals, furs and fertile land because that farming, however the Appalachian mountains stood in the way.


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Throughout the 18th and also early 19th centuries, it take it weeks to reach these resources overland. Bulk transportation of items was limited by what groups of oxen could pull by wagon. The absence of an efficient transportation network confined populations and also trade to coastal areas.


Jesse Hawley

Beginning in 1807, Jesse Hawley—a flour merchant from western new York who went broke trying to gain his product to market in the Atlantic seaside cities—published a series of essays native debtor’s prison. In them, Hawley promoted for a canal mechanism that would certainly span almost 400 mile from Buffalo, brand-new York, top top the eastern shore of Lake Erie, come Albany, new York, top top the Hudson River.


Hawley’s eloquent essays captured the fist of new York politicians, including brand-new York City mayor DeWitt Clinton. Clinton believed that the canal was an important to the economic breakthrough of his city.

Clinton witnessed his setup come come fruition in 1817 after ~ he ended up being the branch of brand-new York. Workers first broke soil on the Erie Canal top top July 4, 1817, near Utica, new York.

An Unprecedented design Feat

The building and construction of the Erie Canal, through mountainous terrain and dense rock showed as an overwhelming as the political environment.


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

It took canal laborers—some irish immigrants, but most U.S.-born men—eight years to end up the project. They clearing the soil by hand and animal power and also blasted v rock with gunpowder. (Dynamite wasn’t invented until the 1860s by sweden scientist Alfred Nobel.)

The original Erie Canal to be just 4 feet deep and also 40 feet wide, though it was thought about a significant engineering feat at the time of its completion in 1825. That traversed virtually 400 mile of fields, forests, and rocky cliffs, and contained 83 locks—structures offered for raising and also lowering boats in between canal follow me with various water levels.


Project engineers had tiny experience building canals. The armed forces academy at West point in brand-new York offered the just formal design program in phibìc America at the moment the Erie Canal was built.

The project noted practical schooling for a new generation the American engineers and also builders, and also led come the establishing of the nation’s an initial civil design school, Rensselaer Polytechnic academy (RPI) in Troy, new York, in 1824.

Erie Canal designers devised new equipment to uproot trees and also stumps and invented the first cement that could collection and harden underwater.


Erie Canal’s economic Impacts

The Erie Canal opened on October 26, 1825. A fleet of boats, led by branch Dewitt Clinton plank the Seneca cook sailed native Buffalo to new York City in record time—just ten days.

The canal transformed brand-new York City right into the commercial funding it remains today. Prior to the canal’s construction, the ports of Boston, Philadelphia and brand-new Orleans outranked brand-new York in size.

But the construction of the Erie Canal gave brand-new York City (via the Hudson River) direct water access to the great Lakes and regions that the Midwest. As the gateway to these resource-rich lands, brand-new York soon ended up being the nation’s financial epicenter and the main port the entry come the United states for europe immigrants.

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

The Erie Canal also noted an economic rise to the whole United claims by enabling the transfer of goods at one-tenth the previous expense in much less than half the ahead time. By 1853, the Erie Canal brought 62 percent of all U.S. Trade.

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


Farmers in western new York and also the Midwest now had cash to purchase consumer goods, due to the fact that they could an ext cheaply delivery wheat, corn and also other crops to lucrative East coast markets.

The Erie Canal additionally helped to wake up America’s nascent tourism industry. It attracted vacationers, including Europeans such together Charles Dickens. Countless tourists floated down the canal ~ above excursions from brand-new York City to Niagara Falls.

Impact on native Americans

The structure of the Erie Canal and also subsequent populace explosion along its route sped up the dispossession—or removal—of native Americans in western brand-new York and the top Midwest.

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

From the early years the the canal era to the optimal of brand-new York’s canal boom in the 1840s and 1850s, state and federal policies advocated the removed of indigenous populations from occurring portions of brand-new York.

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Native americans were sent out to bookings in isolated portions of brand-new York and also other eastern States. Rather were sent to unfamiliar outlying areas in the American Midwest.