A lot has changed since construction on the Erie Canal began 200 years ago. The 524 total miles of waterways that would eventually connect the Hudson River to the Great Lakes still stands as a towering public works achievement, having transformed areas of upstate New York into thriving centers of commerce. Of course, changes in how goods move and where they’re produced mean that the communities that once relied on those four branches of the New York State Canal System aren’t quite as prosperous as they once were.
That’s why a new competition sponsored by the New York Power Authority (which runs multiple hydroelectric facilities along the Erie Canal) and the New York State Canal Corporation wants to bring upstate New York’s once-famous waterways into the 21st century. Reimagine the Canals seeks submissions from designers, urban planners, economists, and engineers who can reinvigorate the New York Canal System and revitalize its surrounding communities.
Submissions should aim to promote “the canal system as a tourist destination, sustainable economic development along the canals and beyond, the heritage and historic values of the Canal System, [and/or] the long-term financial sustainability of the Canal System,” according to the competition website.
The contest will also be broken down into two categories: one track centered on sustainable infrastructure projects for the canal itself, and another for tourism-themed programs in its local communities.
“We’re looking for bold and innovative ideas that ensure the canal system and its surrounding communities can grow and prosper,” said New York Governor Andrew Cuomo in a statement.
With this competition we encourage bright minds from across the globe to contribute their best ideas to help bring this piece of history to new heights.After a first round of proposals, finalists will receive $50,000 to showcase their ideas in partnership with a canal-area municipality or nonprofit. Winning ideas selected by a team of judges will then get a grant of between $250,000 and $1.5 million to make their dream for a more viable canal system a reality.