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A cent and a half a mile, a mile and a half an hour. —Slogan of the Erie Canal Builders

Jacob Lawrence American

Not on view

In this unlocated panel, which is known only through a color reproduction, Lawrence showcased workers who built the Erie Canal across New York state from 1817 to 1825. Three large figures shouldering a canal beam nearly fill the composition. Their procession creates a high horizon line that shrinks the view of the sky above them. Lawrence utilized the weight of this line to emphasize the sheer physical power of the laborers. He also underscored the human capital needed to construct the 363-mile canal system—stretching from the Hudson River in Albany to the Niagara River in Buffalo—that fortified the country’s pathway to economic and social prosperity.

A cent and a half a mile, a mile and a half an hour. —Slogan of the Erie Canal Builders, Jacob Lawrence (American, Atlantic City, New Jersey 1917–2000 Seattle, Washington), Reproduction of egg tempera original

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