History Behind #WaterMusicNY: Jennings Landing and The Capital

Just under a mile from The Albany Symphony's home, The Palace Theatre, Jennings Landing not only serves as a unique performance space, but is located near the historic east end of the Erie Canal.

Jennings Landing offers a view of the Hudson River, right where it meets the Erie Canal.

Albany, NY was chosen to be the capital of New York State in 1797, and just twenty years later, the New York State Legislature would approve seven million dollars to construct the Erie Canal. The first order of business was to decide on a starting place for the canal, and the legislature agreed on Albany, NY, and thus Lock One was placed in Albany.

Governor DeWitt Clinton quickly became the driving force behind the project, expediting the venture and, once it was completed, sailing from Buffalo to New York City on the ship Seneca Chief. Construction began on "Clinton's Ditch" in 1817. Predominantly Irish, workers were paid an average of $10 a month. Whiskey was even given out along the way for motivation.

By Maryann Tracy  Visit the Erie Canal Exhibit at the  Irish Cultural Heritage Museum  in Albany, NY.

By Maryann Tracy

Visit the Erie Canal Exhibit at the Irish Cultural Heritage Museum in Albany, NY.

The canal transformed Upstate NY into an industrial powerhouse. Previously, it took an average of two weeks to travel from Buffalo to New York City by stagecoach, and the Erie Railway did not go underway until the 1840s-1850s. The canal cut travel time from New York to Buffalo to four to five days. It also significantly reduced the cost of shipping to one-tenth of previous rates.

In 1903, when the Erie Canal became the NYS Canal System, the first lock was moved to Waterford at Lock E2. The NYS Canal System is a successor to the Erie Canal and involved a complete revamping of the Mohawk River. Previously, the canal was only forty feet wide and four feet deep, barring large boats and barges from traveling through it.

Today, Jennings Landing is one of the most popular recreational sites in Albany. Located in the Corning Preserve, it is the city's quickest route to the waterfront. 

The concert at Jennings Landing will kick off the start of The Albany Symphony's Water Music Tour on July 2.

The concert tour marks the bicentennial of the Erie Canal, and will feature new works by Daniel Schlosberg, as well as performances by the Empire State Youth Orchestra's Youth Jazz Ensemble as well as Skidmore College's Storyteller's Institute.