We are pleased to announce the publication of our newest exhibition, Two Hundred Years on the Erie Canal. When it was completed in 1825, the Erie Canal was one of the largest public works projects ever attempted, and by connecting the port of New York City on the Atlantic Ocean with the Great Lakes, the Canal dramatically transformed trade, industry, and communication in the region and across the country. Offering a sweeping history of the Erie Canal, the exhibition explores the early conception of the canal, its construction, its social and economic impact on nineteenth-century America, and its use and legacy in the twentieth century and today.
Two Hundred Years on the Erie Canal makes clear that the history of the Erie Canal is both a New York story and a national one, addressing such topics as:
- The engineering, technological innovation, and labor required to construct the 363-mile ditch across the rocky, swampy, and forested region between Albany and Buffalo
- The transformational impact of the Canal on America’s burgeoning market economy, including agricultural production, industrial development, and trade
- The role of the Canal in the spread of new ideas and social movements, including women’s rights, abolitionism, temperance, and religious revivalism
- The folklore and culture unique to the people who lived, worked, and traveled along the Canal
- The Canal’s contemporary uses for both industry and heritage tourism
Two Hundred Years on the Erie Canal was curated by Heidi Ziemer and Dan Ward of Western New York Library Resources Council, in partnership with Empire State Digital Network with funding from Humanities New York. Exhibition materials contributed by Empire State Digital Network, The New York Public Library, David Rumsey, Digital Commonwealth, HathiTrust, Illinois Digital Heritage Hub, Indiana Memory, Library of Congress, Minnesota Digital Library, Missouri Hub, Mountain West Digital Library, Recollection Wisconsin, and Smithsonian Institution.