New York State, 19th century
A nineteenth century state map
focusing on New York's counties.
Maps are an effective, yet often overlooked, narrative tool, and are particularly useful when studying nineteenth century American history. In the case of the Erie Canal, maps are crucial to achieving an understanding of the scale of the project as well as the canal's function with regard to expansion and national development. Included here a few representations that should provide insight into the age of expansion that occurred in the first half of the nineteenth century. Each map can be viewed in full by clicking on its thumbnail version.
Focusing on New York waterways,
this map shows the location of
major cities along the canal route.



A 1925 profile of the canal
by state surveyor general
Roy G. Finch, clearly
showing the canal route.


A canal map that represents the changes in elevation along the route and illustrates city and lock location. Note the drop in elevation between Schenectady and Albany.

maps of expansion and national development
At the turn of the nineteenth century, the United States consisted of 18 states, 14 of which were on or along the Atlantic coast. The purchase of the Louisiana Territory in 1803 doubled the land holdings of the United States, and opened the era of national growth and westward expansion. Shown here is the progression, by decade, of territorial development. Each map can be viewed in full by clicking on its thumbnail version.


1800

1810

1820

1830

1840

1850

1860

The Old Northwest, discussed in relation to the Erie Canal, is composed of much of what is now considered the Midwest. It is essentially the area between the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers; each state touches one of the Great Lakes.