• This 1879 map of Cohoes, New York shows the Erie Canal (center) and feeder Champlain Canal (lower) and lists the many businesses that prospered because of access to canal transport. Courtesy of Boston Public Library via Digital Commonwealth.

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    Cohoes, N.Y: 1879
    • Date
    • 1879
    • Creator
    • Galt & Hoy (Firm)
    • Description
    • Bird's-eye view. Relief shown pictorially. Incluldes index to points of interest and ill. Drawn and pub. by Galt & Hoy.
    • Rights
    • No known copyright restrictions. No known restrictions on use.
    • Partner
    • Digital Commonwealth
    • Contributing Institution
    • Boston Public Library

  • Many cities, like Syracuse, saw the rise of commercial districts, like Hanover Square pictured here, alongside the Erie Canal. Courtesy of Liverpool Public Library via Central New York Library Resources Council and Empire State Digital Network.

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    City of Syracuse - Lithographic view of Clinton Square
    • Date
    • 1841
    • Description
    • Onondaga County: City of Syracuse - View of east side of Clinton Square from a period lithograph published in 1841 in Historical Collection of the State of New York. From left to right, Syracuse Savings Bank Building, Erie Canal with boats, Coffin bl... more
      Onondaga County: City of Syracuse - View of east side of Clinton Square from a period lithograph published in 1841 in Historical Collection of the State of New York. From left to right, Syracuse Savings Bank Building, Erie Canal with boats, Coffin block, Hanover Square and Syracuse House. Also reproduced on p.234 - vol. #1 of Dwight Bruces' 1896 Onondaga Centennial. less
    • Rights
    • The Library is providing access to these materials for educational and research purposed. While the library is not aware of any U.S. copyright protection or any other use restrictions in the Schuelke materials, there may be intellectual property prot... more
      The Library is providing access to these materials for educational and research purposed. While the library is not aware of any U.S. copyright protection or any other use restrictions in the Schuelke materials, there may be intellectual property protected by copyright laws. Responsibility for securing any necessary permissions ultimately rests with persons desiring to use the item. Preferred citation for this material is as follows: "Schuelke Collection, courtesy of the Liverpool Public Library. less
    • Partner
    • Empire State Digital Network
    • Contributing Institution
    • Liverpool Public Library
      Central New York Library Resources Council

New American Consumers

Just as the Erie Canal greatly reduced the cost of transporting goods across the country, it also fostered an increase in prices for raw commodities being produced in the west. For example, between 1825 and 1835 prices for flour sold by farmers in Cincinnati nearly doubled, while prices for corn were nearly tripled. The Erie Canal was possibly the single greatest generator of American market expansion and consumer demand in the first half of the nineteenth century.

Increasing production of American agriculture and manufactured goods was not an accidental byproduct of the Erie Canal. Businesses and government leaders, desirous of decreasing American dependence on foreign goods, viewed the Canal as one catalyst for raising levels of domestic production. The increased availability of finished goods and the related rise of wealth and consumer demand triggered major changes in Americans’ lifestyles. People now had access to a greater variety of essentials (foodstuffs, clothing, tools and farming implements, building supplies) as well as access to luxury goods including pre-made clothing from Cohoes and Troy, cast iron stoves from Albany, and decorative home furnishings from New York City’s cabinetmaker Duncan Phyfe. All of these were promoted through the emerging advertising industry.