Stairway to Empire: Lockport, the Erie Canal, and the Shaping of America

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The story of the Erie Canal’s completion and its place in the larger narrative of American modernity and progress.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Taking advantage of a rich trove of construction records, travelers’ writings, and visual material, Stairway to Empire examines the triumphs and tensions of this iconic American accomplishment and its place in the larger narrative of American modernity and progress. In the decades that followed its completion, the canal rearranged political and economic power on the continent, forming new connections and rupturing old ones, and creating winners and losers in the process. Piercing the barrier of the Appalachian Mountains, the Erie Canal established New York City as the American metropolis, the North’s economic ascendance over the South, and the United States as the dominant power in North America. Yet even as it explores these local and continental implications and the divergent meanings that have been attributed to them, Stairway to Empire also attends to the silences and shadows of a particular event (cutting through the Mountain Ridge), a particular place (Lockport), and the stories we have constructed to try to understand them.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781438425276
  • Publisher: State University of New York Press
  • Publication date: 4/9/2009
  • Series: Excelsior Editions
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 328
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Patrick McGreevy is Professor of History and Director of the Center for American Studies and Research at the American University of Beirut. He is the author of Imagining Niagara: The Meaning and Making of Niagara Falls.

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations

1. Leaving Lockport: And Returning to the Canal’s Beginning

2. Locating Lockport: The Canal and the Continent’s Last Barrier

3. Cutting Lockport: Laborers, Citizens, and Five Years at the Mountain Ridge

4. Writing Lockport: A Dialogue on American Progress

5. Losing Lockport: Afterlife of the Mountain Ridge Conquest

APPENDIX: Mountain Ridge Contractors


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