Objects from the Collection:
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pitcher 26.34 pitcher 37.454.77
pitcher 26.34 pitcher 84.46.2
plate 37.454.128 plate 37.454.97
plate 82.22.1 bowl 84.46.1

Pitcher

This blue transfer print pearlware pitcher includes views of two different canal aqueducts from Enoch Wood & Sons' "Views of the Erie Canal" series. One side shows the "View of the Aqueduct Bridge at Rochester" and the reverse shows the "View of the Aqueduct Bridge at Little Falls."

[click images for enlargements]

Pitcher (Acc. No. 84.46.2)
Produced in Burslem, Staffordshire, England, by Enoch Wood & Sons, c. 1825.
8.25" (21cm) high.


Details

Views of the Erie Canal


Detail of underside of pitcher base.

View of the Aqueduct Bridge at Rochester

Detail of pitcher

This image is also portrayed on Pitcher, 26.34.

Print, as illustrated in Whitford, Noble E. History of the Canal System of the State of New York, Together With Brief Histories of the Canals of the United States and Canada, Vol. I, opposite p. 168.

Photo, as illustrated in Whitford, Noble E. History of the Canal System of the State of New York, Together With Brief Histories of the Canals of the United States and Canada, Vol. I, opposite p. 170. The date of the photograph is not given, but it is described as "recent" as of the printing date (1906).


Source of View: The view is based on a water color by James Eights. The original water color is believed to be in the collections of the Albany Institute of History and Art. The view was made into an engraving by Rawdon, Clark & Co., Albany. The engraving was printed by W.A. Davis. and published in the Memoir Prepared at the Request of the Committee of the Common Council of the City of New York, by Cadwallader D. Colden, New York, 1825. This memoir, containing speeches and an account of the festivities, was presented to the mayor of New York at the celebration of the completion of the Erie Canal.1

Title of the Engraving: View of the Aqueduct Bridge at Rochester, 1823.

Some Variations in Size and Type:
Plates: 5.5 and 7.5 inches;
Pitchers: 6.25 and 9 inches; creamer 3.5 inches (Reverse, Entrance of the Erie Canal into the Hudson at Albany)
Pitchers: 7, 8.25, 9 and 9.5 inches (Reverse, View of the Aqueduct Bridge at Little Falls)

Historical Background: Construction for the original canal aqueduct in Rochester over the Genesee River was started in the fall of 1821. The first contractor for the project, Mr. William Britton, reportedly used a work force that included 28 prisoners, seven of whom had escaped before the end of the year. Unfortunately, Britton's untimely death in December of that same year brought construction to an abrupt halt. In 1822, a new contract was awarded to Mr. Alfred Hovey, who completed the structure in September 1823, for the sum of $83,000.00.2

The original aqueduct over the Genesee River was constructed of Grimsby (Red Medina) Sandstone quarried in the Village of Carthage, now situated within the northern limits of the City of Rochester. The aqueduct also included a coping of Onondaga Limestone, quarried at Union Springs. When finished, the aqueduct was 802 feet long, 17 feet wide, and was supported by 11 Roman-style arches that towered above the river. The aqueduct at Rochester, spanning the Genesee River for more than 800 feet, was the longest stone-arch bridge in the world when it was completed.3

By the 1830s, the original aqueduct was leaking badly, it was so narrow (only 17 feet wide) that boats could not pass on it, and it had a hair pin turn that was difficult to navigate at its east end where the canal turned south to parallel the Johnson and Seymour mill race and the Genesee River. This aqueduct had a reputation as the site of many brawls as crews fought for right-of-way across the aqueduct. One spectacular fight reportedly erupted at the west end of the aqueduct in 1829. So many people had gathered on a bridge overlooking the canal (near present Exchange Street) to view the event that the bridge collapsed, tumbling everyone into the canal.4

Rochester became a great boom town on the western half of the Erie Canal. The swiftness of Rochester's growth was incredible. It was here that the canal crossed the deep and rugged Genesee River which tumbled over rapids and waterfalls, ready to power new industry. With the completion of the canal to Rochester in 1822, new industries were springing up every day. The rushing waters of the river gave power to one waterwheel after another as new factories were built. Stores began selling goods even before their roofs were finished. Eleven flour mills made Rochester one of the greatest milling centers in the world. Millstones in the city turned day and night, grinding out flour so endlessly that warehouse space ran out and the barrels of flour had to be piled in the open. Rochester also became the center for canal boat construction and hundreds of vessels were turned out in her boatyards. By 1835, nearly half the boats on the Erie Canal were either owned or controlled by Rochester interests.5

When approval was granted for the first enlargement of the canal in 1835, one of the first projects undertaken was the construction of a new aqueduct over the Genesee River, just south of the original one. Mr. Josiah Bissell was awarded the contract for construction of the new aqueduct in 1836 and it was completed in 1842, for a cost of $445,347.00. Some of the red sandstone blocks from the original aqueduct were removed to Mr. Bissell's home at 630 East Avenue, now the Upton Court Building of the Rochester Methodist Home.6 The new aqueduct took a different alignment from the original structure thereby eliminating the sharp hair pin turn at its eastern end and making it longer by 46 feet for a total length of 848 feet. The new structure was supported by seven arches and the width was increased to 45 feet. This second aqueduct (which is still standing) was built entirely of Onondaga Limestone quarried in Syracuse and was the only all-stone aqueduct on the enlarged canal.7

The Broad Street bridge deck above the aqueduct was built in 1924 and the aqueduct functioned as part of Rochester's subway system from approximately 1925 to 1956. The Broad Street bridge deck above the aqueduct was rebuilt as it stands today in 1973-1974.8

View of the Aqueduct Bridge at Little Falls

Detail of pitcher

Print, as illustrated in Whitford, Noble E. History of the Canal System of the State of New York, Together With Brief Histories of the Canals of the United States and Canada, Vol. I, opposite p. 798.


Source of View: The view is based on a water color by James Eights. The original water color is believed to be in the collections of the Albany Institute of History and Art. The view was made into an engraving by Rawdon, Clark & Co., Albany. The engraving was printed by W.A. Davis. and published in the Memoir Prepared at the Request of the Committee of the Common Council of the City of New York, by Cadwallader D. Colden, New York, 1825. This memoir, containing speeches and an account of the festivities, was presented to the mayor of New York at the celebration of the completion of the Erie Canal.9

Title of the Engraving: View of The Aqueduct Bridge at Little Falls, 1823.

Some Variations in Size and Type:
Plates 8 and 9 inches
Soup plates 10 and 10.5 inches
Washbowls 12 and 13 inches (view on interior)
Pitchers 7, 8.25, 9, and 9.5 inches (Reverse, Aqueduct Bridge at Rochester)
Pitchers 8.25, 9, and 9.5 inches (Reverse, Entrance of the Erie Canal into the Hudson at Albany)

Historical Background: When the route of a canal runs along level ground there are generally few complications that arise during construction. If a river crosses the course of the canal, the additional engineering necessary to overcome the obstacle may not be too difficult. In some cases, a bridge for the towpath can be built over the river and canal boats can be towed across the river. If a river is subject to seasonally higher or lower water than the canal, guard locks can be built to keep the river from flooding or clogging the canal. However, hilly terrain can prove to be particularly troublesome for both engineers and canal builders.10

Many of the rivers and streams that lay in the path of the canal were located in deep valleys, situated much lower than the elevation of the canal. The only way to get the canal across these natural waterways was to build it on an elevated aqueduct, a bridge designed to carry water. Many of the aqueducts along the Erie Canal were amazing structures for their time. Most were constructed on stone arches but others were built with stone piers supporting trough-like structures which carried the canal across the natural waterway.11

In order to take advantage of level terrain along the lower Mohawk River, surveyors were forced to shift the route of the canal back and forth across the river several times. One of these crossings was located at Little Falls (near Utica), New York. The stone aqueduct at Little Falls was 744 feet long and spanned the Mohawk River with three huge stone arches 30 feet high.12


1 Larsen, Ellouise Baker -- American Historical Views on Staffordshire China, Doubleday & Company, Inc. Garden City, NY, 1950, pp. 25-6.

2 Andrist, Ralph K. -- The Erie Canal, American Heritage Publishing Company, Inc. New York, New York, 1964, p. 56.

   Grasso, Tom -- The Canals and Brief History of Rochester and Eastern Monroe County, Field Trip Guide Book for Saturday 29 July 1978. Unpublished guide book. Canal Society of New York State. Rochester, New York, 1978, p. 9.

3 ibid.

4 McKelvey, Blake -- "Rochester and the Erie Canal", Rochester History,Vol. 11 Nos. 3 and 4, pp. 1-24. City of Rochester. Rochester, New York, 1949.

   Grasso, Tom -- The Canals and Brief History of Rochester and Eastern Monroe County, Field Trip Guide Book for Saturday 29 July 1978. Unpublished guide book. Canal Society of New York State. Rochester, New York, 1978, p. 9.

5 Andrist, Ralph K. -- The Erie Canal, American Heritage Publishing Company, Inc. New York, New York, 1964, pp. 130-1.

6 Grasso, Tom and Craig Williams -- The Erie Canal - Monroe and Orleans Counties (Bushnell's Basin to Medina), Field Trip Guide 20 May 1995. Unpublished guide book. Canal Society of New York State. Rochester, New York, 1995, pp. 58-9.

7 Grasso, Tom -- The Canals and Brief History of Rochester and Eastern Monroe County, Field Trip Guide Book for Saturday 29 July 1978. Unpublished guide book. Canal Society of New York State. Rochester, New York, 1978, pp. 9-10.

8 Grasso, Tom and Craig Williams -- The Erie Canal - Monroe and Orleans Counties (Bushnell's Basin to Medina), Field Trip Guide 20 May 1995. Unpublished guide book. Canal Society of New York State. Rochester, New York, 1995, pp. 58-9.

9 Larsen, Ellouise Baker -- American Historical Views on Staffordshire China, Doubleday & Company, Inc. Garden City, NY, 1950, p. 25.

10 Andrist, Ralph K. -- The Erie Canal, American Heritage Publishing Company, Inc. New York, New York, 1964, p. 55.

11 ibid.

12 ibid., pp. 55-6.

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