Built between 1817 and 1825, the Erie Canal was a wildly successful financial event, setting off the first “Canal Era” in the United States. Canals like the Chesapeake and Ohio, the Dismal Swamp, and Chesapeake and Delaware Canals followed, hoping to duplicate the Erie Canal’s success.
To some degree each man-made canal did but each were not nearly as successful in the long run. Again, Constitutional constraints prohibited Congress from directly subsidizing all of the early canals. A combination of state, local and private financial assistance made the Erie possible. The Erie Canal opened up an important route allowing passengers and freight to reach the Great Lakes and the cities surrounding them like Chicago and Detroit with return access to New York City and the Atlantic Ocean. Almost overnight New York City surpassed Baltimore as America’s largest city.
Florida, however, would not become a state until 1845, and large federal land grants to Florida decades later, would not give the Sunshine State the ability to build a transportation infrastructure in Central and Southern Florida long the east coast until 1881.