The Erie Canal was first opened in 1825. It was significant because it connected Lake Erie and the Great Lakes system to the Hudson River, and thereby gave the western states direct access to the Atlantic Ocean without shipping goods downstream on the Mississippi River to New Orleans. All of upstate New York and the upper Ohio River valley were now connected to New York. The time to ship goods from Buffalo to New York was shortened from twenty days to six; and the cost per ton reduced from $100.00 to five dollars. The economic boon was obviously tremendous. By means of the canal, the importance of New Orleans as the economic capital of the nation was largely supplanted. With the development of the steam boat, the canal became even more important, as goods were then shipped upstream from the Midwest, then by the canal to the port cities of the Northeast.
Many surveys and proposals were developed to build a canal but it was ultimately a survey performed in 1816 that established the route of the Erie Canal. The Erie Canal would connect to the port of New York City by beginning at the Hudson river near Troy, New York. The Hudson River flows into New York Bay and past the west side of Manhattan in New York City. From Troy, the canal would flow to Rome, New York state, and then through Syracuse and Rochester to Buffalo, located on the northeast coast of Lake Erie.