This Day in Business History: Opening of the Erie Canal

October 26, 1825: Although construction first began in 1817, the Erie Canal did not officially open until October 26, 1825. Connecting the Hudson River with Lake Erie, the Erie Canal helped transform New York City into the main port in the United States and greatly increased opportunities for trade and settlements.

The Erie Canal lay four feet deep, 40 feet wide, and 363 miles long and items from timber to manufactured goods to crops and other agricultural goods were transported along this route to cities such as Buffalo, Albany, Utica, and Syracuse that lay along the route.

Once railroads came into existence, much of the shipping and transportation that had been undertaken with help of the Erie Canal diminished, however it remained in use until 1918. Since then, the Erie Canal has been repurposed and is largely used by tourists or for recreational purposes. More recently, the National Park Service and the Ohio & Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor Commission have reclassified the Erie Canal as a National Heritage Corridor.

Source: Library of Congress Research Guides