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The Erie Canal is a 363-mile waterway that connects the good Lakes v the Atlantic ocean via the Hudson flow in upstate brand-new York. The channel, which traverses brand-new York state from Albany to Buffalo ~ above Lake Erie, was taken into consideration an engineering marvel once it very first opened in 1825. The Erie Canal listed a direct water course from brand-new York City come the Midwest, triggering massive commercial and agricultural development—as well as immigration—to the sparsely populated frontiers the western brand-new York, Ohio, Indiana, Michigan and points aside from that west. The canal transformed new York City right into the young nation’s financial powerhouse, and in 2000 the U.S. Conference designated the Erie Canal a nationwide Heritage Corridor.

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Early explorers in America had long looked for a water path from eastern Coast population centers come the resource-rich lands of the Midwest and great Lakes.


The Northwest Territory—which later on would end up being the states of Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois and also Wisconsin—had timber, minerals, furs and fertile land for farming, yet the Appalachian hills stood in the way.

Throughout the 18th and early 19th centuries, it took weeks to with these sources overland. Bulk transportation of goods was limited by what groups of oxen might pull by wagon. The lack 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 brand-new York who went damaged trying to obtain his product to industry in the Atlantic coastal cities—published a series of essays native debtor’s prison. In them, Hawley promoted for a canal device that would span almost 400 mile from Buffalo, new York, ~ above the eastern shore the Lake Erie, to Albany, brand-new York, on the Hudson River.


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

Clinton saw his setup come to fruition in 1817 after he became the governor of brand-new York. Workers first broke soil on the Erie Canal top top July 4, 1817, close to Utica, new York.

An Unprecedented engineering Feat

The building of the Erie Canal, through mountainous terrain and dense rock confirmed as difficult as the politics environment.


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

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

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


Project designers had small experience structure canals. The army academy at West point in brand-new York readily available the just formal design program in north America at the time the Erie Canal was built.

The project listed practical schooling for a new generation of American engineers and also builders, and also led to the establishing of the nation’s very first civil engineering school, Rensselaer Polytechnic academy (RPI) in Troy, new York, in 1824.

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


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Erie Canal’s financial Impacts

The Erie Canal opened up on October 26, 1825. A fleet that boats, led by branch Dewitt Clinton board the Seneca chief sailed from Buffalo to brand-new York City in record time—just ten days.

The canal transformed new York City into the commercial funding it stays today. Before the canal’s construction, the port of Boston, Philadelphia and new Orleans outranked new York in size.

But the building of the Erie Canal gave new York City (via the Hudson River) straight water accessibility to the an excellent Lakes and regions of the Midwest. As the gateway to this resource-rich lands, new York soon ended up being the nation’s financial 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 1850. Gaue won of the Erie Canal’s construction permitted the city to eclipse Philadelphia together the country’s most necessary banking center.

The Erie Canal also noted an economic rise to the whole United says by enabling the move of products at one-tenth the previous cost in less than fifty percent the previous time. By 1853, the Erie Canal carried 62 percent of every U.S. Trade.

For the first time, manufactured products such together furniture and also clothing can be transport in mass to the frontier.


Farmers in western new York and also the Midwest now had actually cash to purchase customer goods, due to the fact that they could an ext cheaply delivery wheat, corn and other plants to financially rewarding East coastline markets.

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

Impact on native Americans

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

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

From the beforehand years the the canal era come the peak of brand-new York’s canal boom in the 1840s and also 1850s, state and also federal policies advocated the removal of native populations from emerging portions of brand-new York.

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