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The Erie Canal is a 363-mile waterway that connects the an excellent Lakes through the Atlantic s via the Hudson river in upstate brand-new York. The channel, i m sorry traverses brand-new York state indigenous Albany come Buffalo ~ above Lake Erie, was thought about an engineering marvel when it an initial opened in 1825. The Erie Canal listed a direct water path from brand-new York City to the Midwest, triggering large commercial and agricultural development—as well as immigration—to the sparsely populated frontiers the western new York, Ohio, Indiana, Michigan and also points aside from that west. The canal transformed new York City into the young nation’s financial powerhouse, and 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 course from eastern Coast populace centers come the resource-rich floor of the Midwest and great Lakes.


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

Throughout the 18th and also early 19th centuries, it took weeks to reach these resources overland. Mass transportation of goods was limited by what teams of oxen might pull by wagon. The absence of an effective transportation network border populations and trade to seaside areas.


Jesse Hawley

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


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

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

An Unprecedented engineering Feat

The building of the Erie Canal, with mountainous terrain and dense rock verified as an overwhelming as the political environment.


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

It took canal laborers—some irish immigrants, however most U.S.-born men—eight years to finish the project. They cleared the floor by hand and also animal power and also blasted v rock v gunpowder. (Dynamite wasn’t designed until the 1860s by swedish scientist Alfred Nobel.)

The original Erie Canal was just four feet deep and 40 feet wide, despite it was considered a significant engineering feat at the moment of its completion in 1825. That traversed virtually 400 mile of fields, forests, and rocky cliffs, and contained 83 locks—structures provided for raising and lowering boats in between canal follow me with various water levels.


Project designers had small experience building canals. The military academy at West point in new York offered the just formal design program in phibìc America at the moment the Erie Canal to be built.

The project listed practical schooling for a brand-new generation of American engineers and builders, and also led to the starting of the nation’s an initial civil engineering school, Rensselaer Polytechnic institute (RPI) in Troy, new York, in 1824.

Erie Canal engineers devised new equipment to uproot trees and also stumps and also invented the an initial cement the could collection and harden underwater.


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Erie Canal’s financial Impacts

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

The canal transformed brand-new York City into the commercial funding it remains today. Before 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) direct water access to the great Lakes and also regions that the Midwest. As the gateway to this resource-rich lands, new York soon came to be the nation’s economic epicenter and also the main port of entry come the United says for european immigrants.

New York City’s populace quadrupled in between 1820 and also 1850. Jae won of the Erie Canal’s construction enabled the city come eclipse Philadelphia as the country’s most vital banking center.

The Erie Canal also noted an economic boost to the whole United claims by permitting the transfer of products at one-tenth the previous price in less than fifty percent the vault time. By 1853, the Erie Canal brought 62 percent of every U.S. Trade.

For the an initial time, manufactured products such together furniture and clothing might be shipped in mass to the frontier.


Farmers in western brand-new York and the Midwest now had cash come purchase consumer goods, since they could an ext cheaply delivery wheat, corn and also other crops to profitable East shore markets.

The Erie Canal likewise helped to stimulate America’s nascent travel industry. It attractive vacationers, consisting of Europeans such as Charles Dickens. Hundreds of tourists floated down the canal top top excursions from new York City come Niagara Falls.

Impact on native Americans

The structure of the Erie Canal and also subsequent populace explosion along its route increased 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 number of groups, including the Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga and Seneca.

From the at an early stage years of the canal era come the peak of brand-new York’s canal eight in the 1840s and also 1850s, state and also federal policies supported the removed of native populations from developing portions of brand-new York.

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