Beautiful New York

A Celebration of the City

It Happened Today in New York City

On July 4, 1817, unskilled workers broke ground for the construction of the Erie Canal. Under the orders of newly elected Governor DeWitt Clinton, the project began under a shadow of widespread skepticism. Known at first as “Clinton’s ditch”, the canal ultimately served to create a quick and easy trade route between the markets of Europe and the plains of the Midwest with New York City right in the middle. Overcoming the disadvantage of being cut off from the heartland by the Appalachian Mountains and supplanting New Orleans’ plum commercial position at the mouth of the Mississippi River, the Erie Canal became the century’s most influential innovation in New York’s progress as a commercial, economic, and financial powerhouse.

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