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2011 City Guide: Underground Railroad

kc kratt

Convincing documentary evidence of WNY’s status as an important stop of the Underground Railroad—which transported enslaved African-Americans to Canada and freedom—is hard to come by. Much was destroyed and much was later romanticized. However, there is no question that this area was a hotbed of antislavery societies, and that Southern Ontario was a safe haven for the fugitives, starting in 1793, when Ontario’s Anti-Slavery pact was passed. The Castellani Art Museum of Niagara University is a good place to start to learn more about the UGRR; it hosts a permanent interpretation center in one of its galleries. It’s also interesting to visit the final resting place of abolitionist Josiah Tryon in Lewiston. Tryon is said to have used the complex cellar system of his brother’s riverfront home as a final hiding place before crossings were made. A Freedom Crossing monument was completed and dedicated at Lewiston Landing in 2009.

Sites in Buffalo that have historical cred include Broderick Park (former docking place of the Black Rock Ferry) and the Michigan Avenue Baptist Church, which, though probably not an actual hiding place, was part of a network of African-American churches that were active in the campaign against slavery.

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