As I read the recent article in The Buffalo News about the Erie Canal, I reflected upon the history of the canal and its importance to the nation and the city of Buffalo.
This major public works project greatly influenced the development and the future of America. It moved newly arrived immigrants to interior areas, led to western settlements of abolitionists, fostered national economic development and the growth in status of the port of New York.
The importance of the Erie Canal to Buffalo cannot be exaggerated. The growth, the development, the prosperity and the future of Buffalo can be linked to the building of the canal. Yet how do we as a region celebrate this connection? We have a “Canalside” with Adirondack chairs and a Commercial Slip but what else?
Our tribute to this historical development needs to be more visual and real. Building Gov. Dewitt Clinton’s Packet Boat on the waterfront, allowing people to participate in the project and ultimately offering the experience of passage on a canal boat, is a fitting recognition of how important the Erie Canal was to Buffalo and the development of our great nation.
This opportunity to celebrate the Erie Canal bicentennial with a project that will allow people from other parts of the country to come to Buffalo and appreciate the historical development of America cannot be over-emphasized.
The Buffalo Maritime Center is prepared to replicate a canal boat that will for generations bring to life the golden days of the Erie Canal. As a region proud of our heritage, we would be remiss to let this opportunity pass.