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Erie Canal: 1904

"1904. Erie Canal at Salina Street, Syracuse, New York." Detroit Publishing Company glass negative, Library of Congress. View full size.

"1904. Erie Canal at Salina Street, Syracuse, New York." Detroit Publishing Company glass negative, Library of Congress. View full size.


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The 'Ear-I-Ee' Canal

Well, someone had to say it!

Erie Canal

I have lived in Syracuse since 1933. Although the Erie Canal as it went through the center of Syracuse has been filled in, the essence of the canal remains. The circa 1845 Weigh Lock Building two blocks East of the photograph is a museum, and many of the engineering marvels of the Erie Canal still remain as mini parks and hiking trails along the towpaths, like the "water over water over water" display in the park on Butternut Drive in DeWitt. The citizens in the communities all along of the Erie Canal have done a great job preserving it and encouraging tourism.

Beautiful city and canal.

I do like this area of New York. The money used to build the Erie Canal was well spent and then some.

Syracuse Savings Bank

"Main Street, U.S.A." notes that the 1876 Syracuse Savings Bank on the left is a steel-framed "textbook example" of High Victorian Gothic designed by Joseph Lyman Silsbee. A graduate of the first American school of architecture (the Massachusetts Institute of Technology), Silsbee is noted as mentor to to a generation of architects including Frank Lloyd Wright.

Steam Power

By 1904 they were probably using steam-powered barges on the Erie, as they were doing then on the canals here in Illinois.

[News clips mention Erie barges being moved by tugboats -- electric and steam-powered. - Dave]

Clinton Square

The old Erie Canal as it ran through downtown Syracuse has been paved over (now Erie Boulevard). There is a small pond-like area in the view you see, also used for winter ice-skating and outside concerts when drained. In the Shorpy view to the left and right of the canal were unloading docks and an outdoor market. To the right is the beautiful old Onondaga Bank Building, in the middle the Gridley Building and to the left the old Syracuse Savings Bank. All of these buildings remain and form what is today known as Clinton Square.

Path to somewhere

I live in Syracuse, the path on the left stops in Albany. They do have some steamers in this shot though. Behind the photographer, the canal split, the Erie to Buffalo, the Oswego Canal to, well, Oswego a port city on Lake Ontario. This scene lasted only 12 more years until the Barge Canal opened. Then the Erie thru Syracuse was filled in (with garbage)and became Erie Boulevard, one of Syracuse's main thoroughfares .

The grassy knoll was replaced by the Soldiers and Sailors monument and the City of Syracuse recently place park at this same spot.

Watch Yer Head

Low bridge, everybody down.
For it's low bridge,
We're coming to a town!
You can always tell your neighbor,
You can always tell your pal,
If you've ever navigated
On the Erie Canal.

-- "Low Bridge" by Thomas S. Allen

Clinton Square

Looks like this is now a large public fountain if, as it appears, this current shot is taken from almost the exact same angle.
(Click the photo for Shorpyesque "Hi-Def Image")

Stone Gorgeous

All the elaborate stonework of the buildings along the canal makes the scene look something like Venice. Was that intentional, or not? I'd say that it was.

I once spent a summer in Venice,
And I had a yen to play tennis,
But those darn canals were a menace,
So I didn't play tennis in Venice.

-- Frank Crumit (1931)

Stairway to Heaven

Love the stairs to nowhere. But wait! Not to nowhere. The stairs become very valuable when the bridge is up. While up, canal boats can pass underneath and pedestrians can use the stairs to cross without having to wait for the bridge to come back down. I've never seen a bridge like that.

Horse Power

In 1904 I would have expected real horse or mule power to pull the barges but it appears there is no path on one side and, to the left, it stops. Is this a terminus or are they perhaps using coal?

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