The American Cyclopædia (1879)/Erie (city)

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Edition of 1879. See also Erie, Pennsylvania on Wikipedia, and the disclaimer.

ERIE, a city, port of entry, and the seat of justice of Erie co., Pennsylvania, situated on Lake Erie, nearly midway between Buffalo and Cleveland, 117 m. N. of Pittsburgh; pop. in 1840, 3,412; in 1850, 5,858; in 1860, 9,419; in 1870, 19,646, of whom 6,928 were foreigners. It stands upon an elevated bluff commanding a fine view of the lake. The streets are broad, and laid out at right angles with each other. State street is the principal business thoroughfare. The city contains several parks. Among the public buildings are the post office, the custom house, and the opera house, recently constructed. The union depot, of brick, in the Romanesque style, is 480 ft. long, 88 ft. wide, and two stories high, and is surmounted by a cupola 40 ft. high. The Erie cemetery, occupying a plot of 75 acres on Chestnut street, near the city limits, is beautifully laid out with drives and walks, and is adorned with trees, flowers, and shrubbery. The Erie Extension canal (abandoned) connected the city with the Ohio river, and the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern, the Philadelphia and Erie, and the Erie and Pittsburgh railroads afford communication with Buffalo, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and the west. The harbor, which has been artificially improved, is 3½ m. long, over 1 m. wide, and from 9 to 25 ft. deep, and is protected by Presque Isle, formerly a peninsula, lying in front of the city. At the entrance are two lighthouses. There are several large docks, some of which are furnished with railroad tracks, so that the transfer of merchandise takes place directly between the vessels and the cars. For the year ending June 30, 1872, there were entered in the coastwise trade 429 steamers of 370,231 tons, and 796 sailing vessels of 267,466 tons; cleared, 427 steamers of 363,105 tons, and 867 sailing vessels of 286,960 tons; entered from Canadian ports, 59 American vessels of 16,137 tons, and 52 Canadian vessels of 8,604 tons; cleared for Canadian ports, 16 American vessels of 2,809 tons, and 41 Canadian vessels of 6,739 tons; value of imports from Canada, $131,500; exports to Canada, $48,823. There were belonging to the port 88 vessels of 16,669 tons, of which 23 of 9,376 tons were steamers, 19 of 5,231 tons sailing vessels, and the rest canal boats and barges; built during the year, 5 vessels of 3,760 tons. The principal articles of shipment are lumber, coal, iron ore, and petroleum. The leading manufactures are of iron, embracing stoves, steam engines, machinery, car wheels, and car work, besides which there are several manufactories of bricks, leather, organs, pumps, furniture, and other wood work, a brass foundery, six petroleum refineries, five beer breweries, two ale breweries, three malting establishments, &c. There are four national banks, with an aggregate capital of $850,000, a safe deposit and trust company, three savings banks, and four insurance companies. Erie is divided into six wards, and is governed by a mayor, and a select council of two members and a common council of three members from each ward. It is lighted with gas, and is supplied from the lake with water, which is forced by powerful engines to the top of a tower 200 ft. high, whence it is distributed through the mains. In 1872 there were 49 public schools, viz., 1 high, 16 grammar, 30 primary, and 2 evening, having 53 teachers and an average attendance of 2,154 pupils. St. Benedict's female academy (Roman Catholic) had 17 teachers and 60 pupils. The young men's Christian association has a library of 4,710 volumes. There are one daily and six weekly (two German) newspapers, an academy, marine hospital, city hospital, jail, orphan asylum, and 29 churches.—The French had a fort on the site of Erie, known as Fort de la Presqu'isle, about 1749, The town was laid out in 1795. A portion of it was incorporated as a borough in 1805, and in 1851 a city charter was granted. The fleet of Com. Perry during the war of 1812-'15 was built and equipped here.