1836 – Madison, WI
James Duane Doty and a friend in Michigan formed the Four Lakes Co. in 1836. Their purpose was
to buy land on the isthmus between Third Lake (Monona) and Fourth Lake (Mendota) and resell it to
settlers. Doty's surveyor helped him develop a plat map to interest future purchasers. The survey
map includes two streets four blocks east of the capitol West Canal Street and East Canal Street.
Villages of the time frequently created canals to improve their transportation options. Doty's map
placed the canal across the narrowest point of land, between Butler Street and Blair Street. The
problem was this was a very high point of land. A revised plat map of 1865 showed the canal here
would have been unfeasible.
While the canal was never built in 1852 the two streets which were intended to line it were. In
the 1880 city directory, West Canal was described as E. Washington Avenue three streets northeast
of Pinckney Street. East Canal was described as crossing Washington Avenue four streets northeast
of Pinckney Street.
The streets eventually lost the name of the canal which never was. At the City Council meeting of
April 17, 1883, Ald. Patrick Boyd made the motion that West Canal Street be changed to Hancock
Street, and it carried. In 1889 Ald. George Hambrecht sought to have Canal Street renamed Scofield
Street to honor Republican Gov. Edward Scofield, but the majority in the City Council voted the
name down. The name was changed to Franklin Street on Jan.14, 1900.
Today the Canal Place Townhouses at the corner of South Franklin and East Main streets remind us
of the original name of the street and the vision for a canal across the isthmus.