No other event led more to Buffalo’s industrial prominence than the opening of the Erie Canal in 1825. The inland canal was the largest undertaking of its time in American civil engineering. Stretching from the Hudson River in Albany to Lake Erie in Buffalo, the canal made it possible to travel to New York City by water, expediting both freight shipments and passenger travel at dramatically lower costs. Generating prosperity and expansion in the various ports along its waterway, the canal had a colossal impact on the socio-economic development of the city of Buffalo, which was chartered in 1832. Nearly overnight, Buffalo became one of the country’s most geographically important cities, and served for decades as the “Gateway to the West.” Heavy industry soon followed.
Over the last decade, the original western terminus of the canal was unearthed and is now a tourist destination on Buffalo’s waterfront, Canalside, featuring a rewatered canal slip, informative signage, brick ruins from Buffalo’s original “canal district,” and exciting family activities.