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The Erie Canal is a canal in New York State. It runs for 365 miles from the Hudson River to Lake Erie. It connects the Great Lakes with the Atlantic Ocean. The State authorized it in 1808, and it was built between 1818 and 1825. It was the first route between the eastern coast of the United States and the Great Lakes. The Canal caused a burst of population in western New York. It also helped New York City become a large port. Today, the Canal is part of the New York State Canal System.