Recreational Vessels Can Now Travel through Once-Industrial Area Now Being Redeveloped into Mixed-Use Neighborhood 

For Immediate Release: 06/18/19

SYRACUSE—The New York State Canal Corporation today announced that recreational vessels can now travel through and dock in the Syracuse Inner Harbor, following a $10.3 million dredging project.

The dredging has created a 7.5-foot depth in the Inner Harbor, which is part of the state Canal System. It once served as a major canal maintenance facility and was also a hub for boat manufacturing.

"The Inner Harbor was an important part of Syracuse's past and now it will be a vital component of its present and future," said Gil C. Quiniones, president and CEO of the New York Power Authority, the parent agency of the state Canal System. "Enabling boats to tie up in the harbor will further enhance its remarkable transformation and open the city to more boaters."

"We are excited that we could complete this Inner Harbor revitalization project for the people of Syracuse and Central New York," said Brian U. Stratton, Canal Corporation director. "The Inner Harbor is poised to emerge as a vibrant neighborhood in the city, one people can now flock to for walking, boating and fishing."

The dredging was necessary because tons of silt and sand from Onondaga Creek goes into Onondaga Lake. That had reduced the depth in the Inner Harbor to as little as two feet, making it impassable for most vessels. The Canal Corporation will continue to dredge the Inner Harbor as needed to maintain proper depths.

"The dredging project was a welcome investment in Syracuse by the state," said Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh. "Our lakefront is being transformed into a place to both live and have fun. This project will only encourage more people to come to the Inner Harbor."

The New York State Thruway Authority, the former parent agency of the Canal Corporation, completed in 2012 the transfer of 34 acres around the Inner Harbor to Syracuse for future development. That led to plans for a $350 million mixed-use development. Some apartments and a hotel have already opened, with office, retail space and restaurants still in the planning stages.

"The Inner Harbor neighborhood is experiencing a renaissance and the completion of the dredging is an important step in continuing its resurgence," said Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon. "We appreciate the Canal Corporation's investment in this important piece of infrastructure so we as a community can capitalize on its economic potential."

The Inner Harbor was created following the 1918 completion of the Barge Canal, now known as the New York State Canal System. It uses rivers and lakes more than the manmade channels employed by older versions of the canals. The new waterway went north of Syracuse in contrast to the original canal, which ran through the heart of the city. To help Syracuse maintain a link to the canal, the state built a terminal at the southern end of Onondaga Lake and dug a channel that provided a connection to the canal from the lake.

The precursor to the Canal Corporation used the Inner Harbor as a maintenance and boat building facility. Among the vessels built there was the tug Syracuse, which was launched in 1933 and is still in service today.

The Inner Harbor was used as a terminal for shipments of lumber, sand and soda ash. Once it became more efficient to ship those goods by rail, the Inner Harbor transitioned to become home to dozens of oil tanks. They were rendered obsolete by the installation of pipelines in the 1980s, which opened up the area to be redeveloped for recreation and other uses after the tanks were removed.

About the New York State Canal Corporation

New York's canal system includes four historic canals: the Erie, Champlain, Oswego and Cayuga-Seneca. Spanning 524 miles, the waterway links the Hudson River with the Great Lakes, the Finger Lakes and Lake Champlain. The canals form the backbone of the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor and connect hundreds of unique and historic communities. In 2019, New York will mark the 200th anniversary of the first trip taken on the Erie Canal, from Rome to Utica.

Like Canals on Facebook at NYS Canal Corporation.

Follow Canals on Twitter at @NYSCanalCorp


Steven Gosset
Media Relations
(914) 390-8192