Monday, November 10, 2008

From Albany to Buffalo

I have realized that one major thing that I have neglected to write about here is how involved the NYCC was in the development of not only New York City, but New York State as well. Its members were instrumental in the realization of several key initiatives in the region - including the Erie Canal.

I was reminded of this last week when I read this article about how commercial shipping is returning to the Erie Canal, albeit slowly. The Erie Canal was first mentioned in the Chamber’s minutes of 1786, and the Chamber later issued a pamphlet expounding the advantages of the Canal. DeWitt Clinton, governor of New York at the time, was a member of the Chamber.

The Canal officially opened in 1825, after 7 years of construction, connecting Albany to Buffalo and allowing shippers to continue south to New York City on the Hudson River, thus sealing NYC's fate as the commercial center of the nation. The website for New York State Canals quotes Clinton as saying, "The city will, in the course of time, become the granary of the world, the emporium of commerce, the seat of manufactures, the focus of great moneyed operations. And before the revolution of a century, the whole island of Manhattan, covered with inhabitants and replenished with a dense population, will constitute one vast city.”

Here is a stereoscopic image of the Erie Canal from 1869, found in the NYCC collection:

The article doesn't mention the NYCC, nor does the Wikipedia article (though we may fix that). I think this illustrates how little researchers really know or understand about how fundamental this organization was to the history of New York.

But that will soon change! Processing is on track and progressing with lightning speed. We are currently working our way through an enormous amount of committee minutes, reports, and records.

In the meantime, you can relive your childhood music class and download an MP3 of "The Erie Canal Song (Low Bridge, Everybody Down)" which pretty much encompassed the entirety of my knowledge of the Erie Canal and New York cities as a kid. I'm sure you are familiar with it, although Katie claims to have never been taught this song in music class (why not, California State Board of Education?). Apparently the Dady Brothers love the Erie Canal enough to record an entire album devoted to it.

On a completely unrelated, non-archives note, last week was a great week to live in New York City. We cheered determined runners in the 2008 NYC Marathon which passed through my neighborhood in Brooklyn:

And we celebrated our country in homes, restaurants, bars, and the streets. This is the crowd that I walked my bike through on my way home Tuesday night:

Enjoy your week, in New York City and everywhere else!



Susan said...


Jen Rutner said...

That's Moe's! That's Fort Greene! (I live there.) I was part of that dancing/crying/celebrating/screaming/loving-nyc-and-the-country crowd!! And, I remember seeing bikers navigating through.

We crossed paths. How fun.
Jen Rutner