later sold to the British Museum), replacing it with a plaster cast. The Erechtheion was partly rebuilt by the American School of Classical Studies. Now it again suffers depredations, this time from atmospheric pollution and the increasing pressure of tourism.

See also

The Acropolis; Parthenon

Further reading

Harris, Diane. 1995. The Treasures of the Parthenon and Erechtheion. New York: Oxford University Press.

Jeppesen, Kristian. 1987. The Theory of the Alternative Erechtheion. Århus, Sweden: Århus University Press.

Scully, Vincent. 1979. The Earth, the Temple, and the Gods. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

Erie Canal

New York State

The 363-mile (585-kilometer) Erie Canal between Lake Erie and the Hudson River, New York, was opened in 1825. Compared with earlier U.S. canal projects, common since about 1785 (none was over 30 miles long), it was a colossal enterprise, incontrovertibly the greatest public works project in the young republic. Despite criticism at its inception, when complete it was acclaimed as the world’s greatest engineering marvel. But great engineering achievement that it was, the social significance of the Erie Canal outstripped that feat by far.

Before its creation the Allegheny Mountains were the Western frontier. Beyond them, virtually inaccessible to the European settlers, lay the resource-rich Northwest Territories—later to become Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio. The canal made westward migration possible, and within fifteen years of its opening it turned New York, formerly the fifth-largest harbor in the nation, into the busiest seaport and greatest commercial center in the United States. In that same period the value of the city’s real estate quadrupled, and mercantile activities multiplied five times.

As early as 1724, a surveyor named Cadwallader Colden speculated on the potential value of a direct water link between the Hudson River and Lake Erie. Sixty years (and the War of Independence) later, a bill proposing improvements to the navigability of the Mohawk and Onondaga Rivers, with an eventual link, to Lake Erie, was put before the New York State legislature. It was defeated, but the idea was revived in 1791. Legislation was passed, feasibility studies undertaken, and two companies established to “open a navigable waterway from Albany to Lakes Seneca and Ontario” and “improve navigation between the Hudson and Lake Champlain,” respectively. Little came of it.

Between October 1807 and April 1808 a miller named Jesse Hawley published several essays in the Genesee Messenger that advocated the construction of a 100-foot-wide (30-meter), 10-foot-deep (3-meter) canal from Buffalo, at the southern end of Lake Erie, to Utica, where it would join the Mohawk River to Schenectady, allowing cargoes to be taken over portage to Albany. His idea was widely derided, even labeled “the effusions of a maniac,” but New York City’s mayor De Witt Clinton publicly agreed with him. The proposed canal was promptly dubbed “Clinton’s Folly.”

Others sided with Clinton. State legislator Joshua Forman successfully moved in 1808 that the best route be surveyed. The report was made in 1810 and the issue was kept alive until a law supporting the project was passed the following year. Public pressure to start the canal continued until Clinton became state governor in 1817. When President Thomas Jefferson, believing a national waterway to be “little short of madness,” vetoed the proposal, the estimated construction cost of $7 million became New York State’s responsibility. Clinton persuaded the legislature to authorize the expenditure, to be funded with bond issues. Much of it was raised from the savings of new immigrants; wealthy, more conservative investors took no risks until the first section of the canal was completed.

The builders of the “Great Western Canal” struck out westward from Rome, New York, on 4 July 1817. Untrained gangs of “canawlers,” many of them Irish immigrants from New York City, were paid fifty cents a day and worked under the general superintendence of the chief engineer, Benjamin Wright. Existing streams and lakes were not joined by the canal, which followed an independent course. The 80-mile (128-kilometer) middle section was cut in light soil across