INTRODUCTION

The creation of the Erie Canal was a paradigm shift for American progress in the 19th century, leveraging hundreds of miles of canal networks capable of generating cities out of swamps and ushering in a new era of exchange. Over a century later, what was the original Erie Canal through Central New York has been capped over with urban development and sprawl. We have an opportunity to reposition Erie as the vehicle for a globally relevant, ecologically turbocharged urban corridor. The Elevating Erie ideas competition sought proposals that considered our current global biodiversity challenges in urbanized regions by developing solutions specific to the Erie Canalway Trail along Erie Boulevard East in Syracuse NY. Entries were received from diverse disciplines providing ideas that would: 

+ Stimulate A Healthy Urban Corridor

+ Increase Biodiversity, Habitat Creation

+ Establish Recreation

+ Promote Economic Growth

+ Develop Multi-Modal Connectivity

While the Erie Canal between DeWitt and Camillus has been mostly paved over for 100 years, the corridor has remained significant to the region by transporting people and goods, and will soon be traversed by one of the longest recreation paths in the United States. Considering the celebration of the bicentennial of the Erie Canal which began in 2017, the City of Syracuse and Town of DeWitt hosted the Elevating Erie Ideas Competition to identify innovative ideas that would stimulate and guide positive future development in the Town and the City. This jointly-sponsored ideas competition–made possible with funding from the New York State Department of State–invited proposals for connecting one of the most urbanized areas of the Erie Canalway Trail. 

The future of the Canal can positively impact the ecology, economy, and the general health of the cities it traverses along its nearly 400-mile length. This call for ideas was intended to help envision new ideas and strategies for ecologically responsible design within a post-industrial landscape, and to reconsider how infrastructure, economic development, and ecology can coexist in a mutually beneficial way. Entrants were asked to create solutions that enabled social engagement, created recreational assets, supported economic opportunities and generated urban-ecological mutualism with the goal of elevating a more holistic Erie Boulevard East, able to positively impact its host cities for the next generation.