The importance of this historic engineering feat has been marked with an ICE plaque alongside the Rochdale Canal, within a few minutes' walk of the city centre.
The Rochdale Canal, which opened in 1798-99, was built with 92 locks to allow it to cross the Pennines, and stretches 32 miles from Rochdale to Castlefield, where it joins the Bridgewater Canal.
North West Regional Director, Darrell Matthews, said "Our plaque celebrates what you might call the transport infrastructure of the first Northern Powerhouse. Manchester's canals helped facilitate the birth of the world's first industrial revolution, and in doing so helped make Manchester become the first modern industrialised city. The canal network is a fantastic feat of civil engineering and a vital part of British history, of which we should be very proud."
Clive Mitchell, Project Team Manager and Engineer, Canal & River Trust, said: "Our canals were built by some of the great civil engineers of the late 18th century and much of the network is still in excellent working order. In recent years the canals have taken on a new lease of life as a popular location for urban regeneration. They also form tremendous traffic-free routes for walkers and cyclists and wonderful wildlife corridors through the heart of the city.
"What began as a vital part of the transport infrastructure of the first Northern Powerhouse is now a major leisure asset at the heart of a thriving city."
See ICE North West's video about Manchester's inland canals.
Find out more about ICE's This is Civil Engineering campaign or contact Spencer Fitz-Gibbon to get involved.