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 Erie Canal in the city has been capped over with urban development and sprawl. We are now presented with the opportunity to reposition Erie as the vehicle for a globally relevant, ecologically turbocharged urban corridor. The Elevating Erie ideas competition seeks proposals that consider our current global biodiversity challenges in urbanized regions by developing solutions specific to the Erie Canalway Trail along Erie Boulevard East in Syracuse NY. We encourage entries from diverse disciplines to provide ideas that will: 

+ Stimulate A Healthy Urban Corridor

+ Increase Biodiversity, Habitat Creation

+ Establish Recreation

+ Promote Economic Growth

+ Develop Multi-Modal Connectivity

While the Erie Canal in Syracuse has been mostly paved over for 100 years, the corridor has remained significant to the region by transporting people and goods, and soon by providing for one of the longest recreation paths in the country. Considering the upcoming bicentennial of the Erie Canal in 2017, the City of Syracuse and Town of DeWitt have launched Elevating Erie, a competition to identify innovative ideas that will 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–invites 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. Creating a Biodiverse Boulevard is motivated by broad agreement that we have entered an era known as the Anthropocene, where the earth’s ecosystems are significantly and negatively impacted by human activities. Rapid development threatens nearly one out of every three imperiled species in the United States. (1), and in the Eastern Great Lakes Lowlands eco-region more than 95% of the habitat is being lost to suburban development, industrialization, or pollution.(2) These negative impacts can be measured, and therefore altered, by the level of biodiversity at the city, block, and site scale.

 The Town of Dewitt and the City of Syracuse invite designers and ecologists, students and experts from around the world to submit their ideas for a biodiverse, multi-modal urban transit corridor along Erie Boulevard East. This call is to 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 are asked to create a solution that enables social engagement, creates recreational assets, supports economic opportunities and generates 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.

1 NWF Endagered By Sprawl 

2WWF Ecoregions

* National Gepgraphic Human Condition