• This is a redraft of the Castello Plan, one of the earliest city maps of lower Manhattan, New York, originally drafted by Jacques Cortelyou around 1660. Courtesy of The New York Public Library.

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    Redraft of the Castello Plan, New Amsterdam in 1660
    • Date
    • 1916
    • Creator
    • Stokes, I. N. Phelps (Isaac Newton Phelps) (1867-1944). Adams, John Wolcott (1874-1925).
    • Description
    • NYPL copy has accession no. stamped in lower left margin: 34000. Proof sheet of plate in I. N. P. Stokes' The Iconography of Manhattan Island.
    • Standardized Rights Statement
    • http://rightsstatements.org/vocab/NoC-US/1.0/
    • Partner
    • The New York Public Library
    • Contributing Institution
    • Lionel Pincus and Princess Firyal Map Division. The New York Public Library

  • 1817 map of the route for the Erie Canal as proposed by the New York Canal Commissioners. Courtesy of SUNY Fredonia via Western New York Library Resources Council and Empire State Digital Network.

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    Map of proposed Canal from Lake Erie to the Hudson River; 1817
    • Date
    • 1817
    • Rights
    • Contact Archives and Special Collections at SUNY Fredonia for permission to reproduce digital images: http://www.fredonia.edu/library/special_collections/.
    • Partner
    • Empire State Digital Network
    • Contributing Institution
    • SUNY Fredonia
      Western New York Library Resources Council

  • This is an excerpt from an 1821 publication of the New York Corresponding Association for the Promotion of Internal Improvements, which provided the impetus for exploring a canal route connecting the western and northern lakes with the Atlantic Ocean. Courtesy of University of Minnesota via HathiTrust.

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    Public documents, relating to the New-York canals, which are to connect the western and northern lakes, with the Atlantic Ocean; with an introduction
    • Date
    • 1821
    • Creator
    • New York Corresponding Association for the Promotion of Internal Improvements.
    • Description
    • Includes reports of the Canal Commissioners, etc., 1811-1821.
    • Rights
    • Public domain. Learn more at http://www.hathitrust.org/access_use
    • Partner
    • HathiTrust
    • Contributing Institution
    • University of Minnesota.

Access to the Interior

Until the construction of the Erie Canal, New Orleans had nearly exclusive access to trade with the rich interior of North America because of its location on the Mississippi River. Beginning in the seventeenth century during French, Dutch, and then British competition for the fur trade in North America, people realized that New York City, with its deep and protected harbor and access to the interior via the Hudson River, was strategically situated for trade with Europe. As early as 1724, Cadwallader Colden, surveyor general and later colonial governor of the Province of New York, prepared a report for the governor describing the natural "water courses and carrying places" (portages) between Albany and Montreal, Canada, and between Albany and Cataraqui Lake, now known as Lake Ontario. It took another one hundred years before the New York Corresponding Association for the Promotion of Internal Improvements was organized to advance support for building a canal across New York State—a project they envisioned as the starting point for a cross-country navigation system of waterways bridging Lake Erie with the Atlantic Ocean, the Mississippi River, and the western states of Michigan and Illinois.