The Canal Era


Luxury goods, canal excursions... these advertisements mark a change in the lives of Clevelanders by 1837 when this, the city's first directory, was published.

To view additional advertisements, select Cleveland 1837 Directory below.

Cleveland 1837 directory.


Once the Ohio & Erie Canal was open to navigation, change came swiftly to the towns along its route, and the effects were felt in surrounding areas as well. Commerce flowed from the eastern centers through Cleveland to the interior.

The city grew in size, wealth and influence. The alterations to the landscape of Cleveland may be seen in this 1846 illustration of the Cuyahoga valley.

The valley of the Cuyahoga in 1846 (from A History of the City of Cleveland: Its Settlements, Rise and Progress, 1796-1896, by James Harrison Kennedy, facing page 146.)


Akron, located at a stairway of locks which slowly carried boats up to the summit, also benefited from canal travel

This illustration from 1874 shows the Ohio & Erie Canal passing alongside the lumberyard of Miller, Thomas & Co., of Akron. (Combination atlas map of Summit county, Ohio, compiled, drawn and published from personal examinations and surveys, by Tackabury, Mead & Moffett, 1874. Courtesy of Map Collection, Cleveland Public Library.)

The Ohio & Erie Canal runs through Akron's Third Ward in this map from Tackabury, Mead & Moffett's Combination atlas map of Summit county, Ohio, compiled, drawn and published from personal examinations and surveys, 1874. (Courtesy of Map Collection, Cleveland Public Library.)


Farmers found that reliable transportation to markets made it profitable to grow more cash crops. Other manufacturers also benefited. An abstract of trade on the Ohio & Erie Canal during 1832, the year of its completion, illustrates the quantities and types of goods shipped.



With greater access to raw materials, and fueled by water power from the canal system, industries grew and developed along the Ohio & Erie. New possibilities and challenges had come to Ohio with the canals.


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Last updated April 7, 1999