During the 1800s, hundreds of heroic men and women in the Niagara region worked with Harriet Tubman to assist slaves as they escaped to freedom in Canada. Dozens of churches, homes, farmhouses and other dwellings in Niagara County were used as hiding places in the Underground Railroad movement.
What is the significance of Niagara Falls to the Underground Railroad?
- The Underground Railroad The Niagara Region has always and will continue to be a gateway. It is the doorway that connects Canada to the United States, a doorway that for many refugees entering Canada in the early 1800’s meant the difference between freedom and slavery. For these people the Niagara Frontier became the doorway to new life.
Was Niagara Falls part of the Underground Railroad?
In the 1850s, the town of Niagara Falls was a key location on the Underground Railroad, situated along the Niagara River and the border with Canada. The river was thus the last barrier to cross for people escaping slavery to reach freedom in Canada.
Why do you think Niagara Falls was a major destination for runaway slaves?
This allowed slave hunters to pursue and capture enslaved people in places where they would legally be free. Approximately 30,000 slaves were able to escape along the Underground Railroad, and Niagara Falls was well-recognized as being a settling point for many people who escaped slavery in the United States.
What role did the Great Lakes play in the Underground Railroad?
More than 150 years ago, the Great Lakes region played a key role in the Underground Railroad. Runaway slaves made their way to cities along the lakes and crossed the border to freedom in Canada. Today, thousands of asylum seekers who came to the U.S. are heading north, too.
What inspired the Underground Railroad?
Quaker Abolitionists In the early 1800s, Quaker abolitionist Isaac T. Hopper set up a network in Philadelphia that helped enslaved people on the run. At the same time, Quakers in North Carolina established abolitionist groups that laid the groundwork for routes and shelters for escapees.
Did the Underground Railroad go through Buffalo NY?
Most people don’t realize that Buffalo & Niagara Falls played a huge role in the Underground Railroad and the emancipation of slaves. The region’s geography and shared border with Canada made the Niagara Frontier a key destination for enslaved people seeking freedom in the 1800s.
Did Buffalo NY have slaves?
Buffalo’s black population faced many adversities but experienced more freedom than many other parts of the country. New York State was one of the more liberal states and enacted policies, such as abolishing slavery in 1827. Still, life in Buffalo was far from perfect for black families in the 1800s.
When were African slaves brought to Canada?
The colony of New France, founded in the early 1600s, was the first major settlement in what is now Canada. Slavery was a common practice in the territory. When New France was conquered by the British in 1759, records revealed that approximately 3,600 enslaved people had lived in the settlement since its beginnings.
Did the Underground Railroad go to Canada?
The Underground Railroad was the largest anti-slavery freedom movement in North America. It brought between 30,000 and 40,000 fugitives to British North America (now Canada).
What river did Harriet Tubman?
Anyone who drives Highway 17 from Point South toward Charleston will cross the Combahee River and the Harriet Tubman Bridge. Tubman, also know as “Moses”, was a former slave from Maryland who fled to freedom in 1849.
Did slaves cross Lake Erie?
The abolitionists and former slaves that ran the Underground Railroad helped runaway slaves cross to Canada via Lake Michigan, Lake Huron, Lake Erie and the Niagara River. Captains of “Freedom Ships” are believed to have played an important role in helping stowaways escape, such as on the schooner Home.
Does the Underground Railroad still exist?
It includes four buildings, two of which were used by Harriet Tubman. Ashtabula County had over thirty known Underground Railroad stations, or safehouses, and many more conductors. Nearly two-thirds of those sites still stand today.
Did the Underground Railroad really exist?
( Actual underground railroads did not exist until 1863.) According to John Rankin, “It was so called because they who took passage on it disappeared from public view as really as if they had gone into the ground. After the fugitive slaves entered a depot on that road no trace of them could be found.
Why was the Underground Railroad illegal?
After the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act as part of the Compromise of 1850 the Underground Railroad was rerouted to Canada as its final destination. The Act made it illegal for a person to help a run away, and citizens were obliged under the law to help slave catchers arrest fugitive slaves.
Buffalo-Niagara’s Role In The Underground Railroad
In the year 1815, Henry Bibb was born into slavery in the state of Kentucky. Despite several failed attempts to elude enslavement, he had the strength and fortitude to continue his battle for freedom despite being captured and imprisoned numerous times. His determination paid off when he was able to successfully escape to the northern states and then on to Canada with the assistance of the Underground Railroad. In the next section, he discusses one of his many escape attempts, as well as the difficulties he encountered along the way.
I began making preparations for the potentially lethal experiment of breading the shackles that held me captive as a slave at that hour.
I also purchased a suit that I had never been seen or known to wear before, in order to escape discovery.
I took action in response to the former, despite the fact that it was one of the most self-defying acts of my entire life, in order to bid farewell to an affectionate wife, who stood before me on my departure, holding dear little Frances in her arms and tears in her eyes as she bid me a long farewell.
- If Matilda had known what I was doing at the time, it would not have been feasible for me to escape, and I could still be a slave today.
- be free!’ I didn’t give in, and I was able to escape.
- My deep bonds to friends and relatives, as well as all of the affection for one’s home and birthplace that is so natural within the human family, entwined themselves around my heart and were difficult to disentangle.
- But I’d calculated the cost and was well prepared to make the sacrifice before proceeding.
- I must either abandon friends and neighbors, as well as my wife and kid, or accept to living and dying as a slave.” I was given something to eat by these gracious folks, who then set me on my way to Canada on the advise of a buddy who was also on my journey.
- I proceeded with courageous confidence, believing in the arm of Omnipotence; directed by the immovable North Star by night; and inspired by the high notion that I was fleeing from a place of servitude and persecution, saying farewell to handcuffs, whips, thumb-screws, and shackles.
I pursued my journey vigorously for nearly forty-eight hours without food or rest, battling against external difficulties that no one who has never experienced them can comprehend: not knowing when I might be captured while traveling among strangers, through cold and fear, braving the north winds while wearing only a thin layer of clothing, being pelted by snow storms through the dark hours of the night, and not being able to find a house in which to take shelter from the storm.” This is merely one of several accounts written by runaway slaves who were on the run.
Sojourner Truth was another former slave who became well-known for her work to bring slavery to an end.
Green, and a slew of other celebrities, authored memoirs on their lives.
Perhaps a large number of escaped slaves opted to write down their experiences in order to assist people better comprehend their struggles and tribulations; or perhaps they did so in order to help folks learn from the mistakes of the past in order to create a more prosperous future for themselves.
What was the Underground Railroad?
During the early to mid-1800s, the Underground Railroad was a network of secret passageways and safe homes that operated throughout the United States. Enslaved African-Americans utilized it to flee from the slave states of the South to the free states of the North, as well as to Canada. As reported by PBS, enslaved persons in the southern United States would first have to flee their slaveholder before making their journey north. The “conductors” of the Underground Railroad then assisted them in moving from one station to the next.
In order to reach the next “station,” which would be a home or business that would offer them with refuge and food, escaped slaves traveled by train, rail, and foot.
The stationmaster would be waiting for them when they arrived.
Buffalo-Niagara’s Importance in the Underground Railroad
According to WNYHeritage.com, reaching the Niagara Frontier was the ultimate aim of hundreds of African-American freedom seekers journeying over the Underground Railroad in the 1800s. This was owing to a mix of geography, politics, and the fact that the state shares a border with Canada. It wasn’t until 1827 that slavery was abolished in New York State, therefore just being in the state didn’t guarantee freedom until much later in the century. According to the website, even after slavery was abolished in New York, children of freed slaves were required to serve as apprentices until they reached the age of 21, and slave owners were permitted to bring slaves into the state under certain conditions.
- It was prohibited from introducing new slaves into the province, despite the fact that the rule specified that those born into slavery would stay enslaved until they were killed.
- For former slaves from both New York and other states farther south, the Niagara River serving as a canal between Buffalo-Niagara and Canada served as a waterway to freedom during the American Civil War.
- Following the abolition of slavery in New York State for a period of time, former slaves were able to assist those in the South who were seeking freedom by giving food and shelter through the Underground Railroad.
- Because of a statute passed by Buffalonian and former President Millard Fillmore, they did so at their own peril.
- The act made it a criminal for any American to help a runaway slave in his or her escape.
- Some of these individuals included Harriet Tubman, who escaped slavery in Maryland in 1849 and, by late 1851, had assisted others in fleeing to St.
Catharines, California, in what is now the province of Ontario. Tubman put her life in danger by returning to the South 19 times to lead at least 300 slaves to freedom, according to Public Broadcasting System (PBS).
It is reported that in November 1856, Tubman escorted four escaped slaves by rail across the Niagara Falls Suspension Bridge, which was located near the site of today’s Rainbow Bridge, to safety. When they reached the Canadian border, she informed the freedom seekers that they had “shaken the lion’s paw,” a reference to Great Britain, which had dominated the region until 1867, and that they were now officially free of British rule. “Such a well-documented memorial to the battle for independence is something of which Western New Yorkers and Southern Ontarians should feel proud,” says WNYHeritage.org of what remains of the suspension bridge.
In addition to the Cataract House, which was formerly one of the largest hotels in Niagara Falls during the 1800s, another important local Underground Railroad relic was the Niagara Falls Hotel. This establishment, according to the Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center, had a completely African-American wait staff, which assisted many former slaves in their escape to Canada, with some even ferrying slaves across the Niagara River themselves. African-Americans employed at the Cataract House in 1850 reported their birthplaces as a southern state or as unknown/unlisted, indicating that many of these individuals had fled slavery.
A statement from the Niagara Falls Heritage Center states that “the significance of the Cataract House as a focal point of Underground Railroad action in Niagara Falls cannot be overstated.” As a result of the African American servers who served as Underground Railroad agents, this location became one of the most important Underground Railroad hubs in the whole country.” While the suspension bridge and the Cataract House were regarded crucial locations for assisting freedom seekers in their journey to Canada, escaped slaves also sailed to Canada aboard boats from Lewiston and Youngstown, and some even swam over the Niagara River to reach freedom in Canada.
Local Museums Highlight Underground Railroad History
Located in Niagara Falls, New York, the Niagara Arts and Cultural Center (NACC) hosts an Underground Railroad Exhibit titled “Freedom Crossing: The Underground Railroad in Greater Niagara.” People may learn about the history of the Underground Railroad Movement in Buffalo Niagara and the people who risked their lives in order to achieve freedom by visiting the exhibit. The Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center, which is also located in Niagara Falls, New York, is an essential destination to visit if you want to understand more about the region’s role in the Underground Railroad.
Several stories of the Underground Railroad in Niagara Falls are featured in the permanent display, One More River to Cross, according to the Heritage Center’s website.
At the Heritage Center, there is a model of the aforementioned Cataract House, which serves to illustrate the hotel’s history and significance in the Underground Railroad movement.
The region, as well as the heroic individuals who risked their own lives to assist others, should be acknowledged for their contributions to the history of the United States as whole.
Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center – Wikipedia
|Niagara Falls Customhouse, home of the center|
|Location||Niagara Falls,New York|
|Type||African American history|
|Public transit access||Amtrak(Niagara Falls Station and Customhouse Interpretive Center)NFTARoute 50Discover Niagara|
This museum in Niagara Falls, New York, is centered on the history and legacy of the Underground Railroad and is dedicated to preserving that history and heritage. The Niagara Falls Station and Customhouse Interpretive Center, which opened its doors in 2018, is housed on the first floor of a historic former United States Customhouse, which was erected in 1863.
It was in 2007 when former Niagara Falls City Council Chairman Charles A. Walker and Kevin E. Cottrell proposed a plan to commemorate the Underground Railroad on North Main Street, which they dubbed “North Star on North Main.” The Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Commission, established by the New York State Legislature in 2008 to work on the creation of an Underground Railroad museum in Niagara Falls, has received funding from the state since 2008. The next year, a state statute controlling the use of Seneca Niagara Casino money by the city of Niagara Falls was altered to provide the commission with $350,000 each year, a sum that was later cut to $200,000 per year in 2011 by the legislature.
The museum is a collaboration between the National Park Service and the Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Commission.
The museum, which bills itself as a “experiential museum,” features exhibits such as “One More River to Cross,” which tells the story of the Underground Railroad in Niagara Falls, the role played by the city’s location and geography, and the actions of its residents, particularly African-American residents. The Cataract House, a Niagara Falls hotel that employed an entirely African-American wait staff and assisted a large number of former slaves to freedom in Canada, is among the other exhibits.
‘One More River to Cross’ was recognized with an Award of Excellence from the American Association for State and Local History in 2019.
- A museum dedicated to the history of the Niagara Falls Underground Railroad
- The Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center Bill Bradberry, President and Chairman of the Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Area Commission, is the subject of this podcast.
History and Social Justice – Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center (U.S. National Park Service)
15th of October, 2018 || F. Calarco (NERO) contributed to this article. The Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center officially opened its doors to the public for the first time in May of this year. The Niagara Falls National Heritage Area is collaborating with the Niagara Falls Heritage Center to present stories of border crossings linked to the Underground Railroad. The heritage center is highlighting the stories of freedom seekers and the history of the United States. In the works for several decades, the path to the inauguration of the historical center began 30-40 years ago when members of the Niagara Falls community began finding unrecorded family histories linked to the Underground Railroad and putting them on display.
- It was also decided to engage into a shared staffing arrangement with the Niagara Falls National Heritage Area in order to offer the tools for developing and maintaining the center’s displays.
- The heritage center is free and open to the public.
- John Morrison, the head waiter, organized his crew to act as covert operatives of the Underground Railroad.
- The wait staff, who were able to remain hidden in plain sight, aided a number of freedom seekers in crossing the border into Canada.
- Museum of the Niagara Falls Underground Railroad and Underground Railroad Heritage Center Saladin Allah, a Visitor Experience Specialist at the heritage center, explained why it’s important to use the term “freedom seeker” when talking about the Underground Railroad.
- Whenever you refer to an individual human being in this manner, you are defining their identity through the use of the word “slave.” Rather than a state of being, slavery was a situation that existed.
- The historical center worked with illustrator E.B.
Catechists and Underground Railroad leaders John Morrison (left) and James Patterson (right), who worked as Cataract House waiters and Underground Railroad operatives.
For example, inviting people to share their own personal stories and ideas with museum employees and other visitors is an important part of this initiative.
Ultimately, we want individuals to make those connections in their own lives, from their own experiences, and from their own viewpoints, so that they can speak to the bigger notion of freedom.
It won’t be possible for anyone to be truly free until we all are.
With the help of the League of Women Voters, the center held a voter registration campaign for the first time.
Since the space’s inception, two Holocaust survivors have paid it a visit.
The Cataract House Gallery tells the experiences of servers who came to the rescue of political prisoners.
Return to 2018 Blogs
Featured image courtesy of the Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Historical Society. It is impossible to overstate the significance of black history in Western New York. The Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center, which is featured in this piece, is one of the most colossal exhibits of that history. This facility, which is one of the most significant pieces of black history in Western New York, does an outstanding job of showcasing and preserving the stories of the Underground Railroad as it existed in Niagara Falls at the time of its establishment.
Located in Niagara Falls, New York, the Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center is exclusively committed to preserving local history. In particular, they hope to share actual experiences of freedom seekers and abolitionists in order to encourage visitors to notice contemporary inequalities that result from slavery and to take steps to create a more fair society. The facility itself is designed to resemble a museum, complete with informational and historical exhibits for visitors. Due to the fact that it resurrects both the legacies left by the Underground Railroad and the manner in which it contributed to the creation of the city of Niagara Falls today, the value of this site cannot be overstated.
- The center officially opened its doors in May of 2018 after years of planning and visioning what it may be.
- Customs House, which houses the museum and is open to the public.
- This bridge, which is visible from the Center, functioned as a border crossing for many freedom seekers since it was easily accessible by vehicles.
- The Erie Canal had a significant influence in facilitating access to this site.
- The Center also emphasizes individual places across the city that served as stops along the Underground Railroad route.
- The “One More River to Cross” exhibit at the Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center.
What To Expect When You Visit
When it comes to the visitor experience, the Center provides a variety of possibilities. Tours, exhibitions, and activities are available to let you to fully immerse yourself in a vital piece of local African-American history. You are welcome to visit the museum at any time during business hours as long as you adhere to the COVID-19 guidelines in effect. Aside from that, they now provide virtual group and individual tours of the museum, which may be viewed through their website. The “One More River to Cross” exhibit at the Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center.
When you visit, you may expect to view their permanent display “One More River to Cross” as well as other temporary exhibits.
There are a variety of interactive items on display, and it takes most visitors around an hour to complete the entire exhibition.
The new Heritage Center is devoted to the stories of brave self-emancipation by freedom seekers, as told by their descendants.
Pro-tips For Visiting
- Regarding the guest experience, the Center provides a variety of possibilities. Tours, exhibitions, and activities are available to let you to become immersed in a vital aspect of local Black history. The museum is open during normal business hours and visitors are required to adhere to the COVID-19 regulations. Additional to this, they presently provide virtual group and individual tours of the museum, which may be accessible on their website. Photo courtesy of the Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center’s “One More River to Cross” exhibit and photograph. “One More River to Cross” is the permanent display in the museum, which you may expect to view if you go. As the centerpiece of the center, this exhibit draws attention to the history and tales of the Underground Railroad as well as the role performed by the city of New York in aiding liberation for slaves. It takes roughly an hour for visitors to complete the entire show, which includes a number of interactive parts. In light of today’s restrictions on people’s liberties, the exhibition draws attention to contemporary linkages with this past and urges viewers to reflect on their own choices.” In addition to telling stories of brave self-emancipation, the new Heritage Center will have exhibits on slavery and liberation. Over the course of the exhibition, visitors will be immersed in these narratives and hear from persons both past and present, with the hope that these experiences and connections will lead to greater involvement, contemplation of new or alternative viewpoints, and desire to take action.” Onniagarafallsundergroundrailroad.org provides further information on the underground railway.
We welcome you to visit niagarafallsundergroundrailroad.com for additional information on how to visit and support the Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center. Follow the center on social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram.
Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center
Located at 825 Depot Avenue West in Niagara Falls, New York 14305. Tickets are available for purchase online. Hours of operation are:
- Thursday: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Friday: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Saturday: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Sunday: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Their website may be found here, where you can get the most up to date hours.
Every Wednesday at 7 p.m. and Saturday at 2 p.m., Virtual Freedom Conversation Tours are conducted. Virtual Freedom Conversation Tours are held in real time online. Tickets are available for purchase online under the events section. Prices for admission are as follows: Adults $10, seniors 62 and over $8, students 13 and up with valid ID $8, youth 6-12 $6, and children 5 and under free Virtual Freedom Conversation Tour: $25 for a family, $12 for a couple, and $8 for a single. Website:niagarafallsundergroundrailroad.org
Niagara Falls USA and Underground Railroad Heritage Tour
I grew up in a generation that only had a cursory understanding of African-American history, thanks to grade-school textbooks written from Eurocentric viewpoints. Regardless of your ancestral/ethnic/national/racial origins, one can never be too old to learn about one’s own history, or the history of others – regardless of your own. During Motherland Connexions’ enthralling tour, I discovered, through tears in my eyes, that the complex history of enslaved African people in America – during which an extreme form of institutionalized slavery known as “chattel slavery” was developed – canNOT be divorced from the history of the United States and its people.
I’ve had psychological conflicts (inner turmoil) for a long time because of my mixed African-European-Indigenous ancestry (learned through oral history and proven scientifically via several DNA tests).
My Blackness – really, my Africanness – had been a source of shame for decades, so I decided to confront the madness by reading all of the books that my wonderful older brother had recommended and by embarking on excellent tours into American African history, such as the Underground Railroad Heritage Tour offered by Motherland Connexions.
The tour encompasses Pan-African history, economy, and cultures in order for us tour participants to comprehend the realities that existed before the Underground Railroad concept was established – which, as Kevin explained, had to be established much later because otherwise the secret missions would have been discovered and their missions would have come to an end.
- When I was watching the precise dinner service at The Cataract House in Niagara Falls, New York, my mind was blown – not just because of the crisp, military motions, but also because of the hidden code that allowed enslaved Black people to escape from slavery.
- I was curious as to whether the expression “giving him the slip” originated with the Underground Railroad or at some point during the two centuries preceding it.
- Consider the Triangular Slave Trade, the Middle Passage, as well as all of the slave ports and slave marketplaces (some of which survived and are now depressing tourist destinations).
- The truth about this ruthlessly shrewd business of horror and devastation has been delivered by tour guide Kevin C.
While I am grateful to the many abolitionists of various stripes who worked tirelessly for the abolition of chattel slavery in America, I am most grateful to my direct yet distant ancestors who gave their lives to build this nation (the United States – and other countries in the Americas) without compensation but with much creativity and ingenuity, as well as to those who worked tirelessly for decades to locate and claim kin from plantations all over the world.
- Always at risk of being apprehended.
- I knelt down to feel the grass and wished to descend the newly constructed wooden steps so that I might dip my fingertips into the historic river.
- Finally, our non-rushed tour to the McClue Farm, which is the location of Murphy Orchard, was another really poignant experience for me, and it served as the tour’s apex.
- Kevin C.
- The barn and majestic brick farmhouse on the McClue Farm are preserved just as they were hundreds of years ago.
- The fragrance of freshly gathered fruit filled the air in the orchard.
Because they were afraid of being discovered, enslaved people traveling through the creek waters couldn’t even risk crying out in pain for fear of being discovered and captured, as the late farmer-entrepreneur Cathy Murphy reminded us in a video documentary she narrated not too many years ago (Cathy Murphy passed away five or six years ago): My tears flowed silently behind my glasses as I sat in the eerie atmosphere created by the antique barn’s eerie atmosphere while watching the poignant video of less than 20 minutes in length.
- I couldn’t care less about the dustiness and faint smell of original chestnut wood beams emanating from the dampness of recent rain.
- took us through the barn’s interior before and after the movie, and I could sense the souls of enslaved persons who had been hidden by the McClues more than 12 feet beneath a portion of barn floor that would have been covered with hay.
- In order to feel the stone around the escape hatch, I crouched down and then rose up to feel the chestnut wood columns supporting the barn’s roof.
- It was necessary for them to continue until they could be carried across the border to Canada or driven across the bridge after being disguised behind coverings on a horse-drawn carriage.
- I was brought to tears as I thought about my own DNA test findings and the population tracking that indicates various groups of ancestors settling in and around London, Ontario, as well as in greater numbers in the Canadian provinces of New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Nova Scotia.
- is always willing to answer any inquiries from tour participants.
What a wonderful, varied tour experience it was! What a wonderful, and even a little bouncy, tour director! Thank you very much, Mr. Kevin C., and please allow the good times to continue! This review was useful to 1 traveler who found it to be helpful.
The Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center
The Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center is a new, interactive museum that tells the true stories of freedom seekers and abolitionists who lived and worked in Niagara Falls during the Underground Railroad era. The museum’s mission is to inspire visitors to recognize modern injustices that stem from slavery and to take action to create a more equitable society. The permanent exhibition, One More River to Cross, which has been on display since May 2018, tells the fascinating stories of the Underground Railroad in Niagara Falls, as well as the critical role played by the city’s location and geography, as well as the actions of its residents – particularly its African American residents.
The International Coalition of Sites of Conscience’s mission is to connect the past to contemporary social justice issues – “to turn memory into action.” The questions from CultureBank were answered by Emily Reynolds, Marketing Specialist at CultureBank.
People in Niagara Falls, New York, may learn about the Underground Railroad at the Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center. Niagara Falls is located in the rust belt and is currently seeing a resurgence following decades of economic and population loss. It is also the destination for over 4 million tourists who come to see the falls every year.
What gets you going each day and inspires your current work?
It is the tales of the people who lived in and moved through Niagara Falls during the era of slavery in the United States that serve as inspiration for my work at the Niagara Falls Heritage Center. There are several such legends, including one about the servers at the Cataract House, a famous hotel that flourished at Niagara Falls from 1825 to 1945. When visiting the Falls, everyone who was anybody stayed at the Cataract House, including notable abolitionists as well as enslavers, who frequently brought their enslaved slaves with them.
Waiters at the Cataract House assisted numerous enslaved slaves of hotel guests in crossing the Niagara River by boat to freedom in Canada, doing so clandestinely and at considerable personal peril to their own safety.
About 1890, according to the Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center — Central Hotel Staff.
When you work in your community, what are the most valuable assets of the community that you experience aside from real estate and money?
The tales of the individuals who have lived here throughout history, as well as the lives of those who live here now, are the most precious assets in our community for our work. There are fascinating stories of things that have happened in Niagara Falls that have been passed down through generations of humans. The falls themselves are a great asset in their own right. Currently, they attract more than 4 million visitors to Niagara Falls each year, with whom we aim to share our heritage. The proximity of our location to the Canadian border is a third advantage that we have enjoyed.
Greater tales, more history, and cross-national collaboration are all made possible by our closeness to Canada, which has mostly gone unexplored.
How does your artistic practice inform and/or is integrated into your enterprise?
While our museum is dedicated to the celebration of history, we have included art and culture into every aspect of it. Numerous individuals on whom we focus were not photographed, their lives were kept hidden by necessity, and the artifacts that dotted their history were not thought valuable enough to be saved. We collaborated with partners, including illustrator E.B. Lewis, to bring the stories to life and to assist tourists understand the Underground Railroad in Niagara Falls. The stories were brought to life via the collaboration of E.B.
What is the impact of your work on your community?Today?Over a long period of time?
It will be one year since our museum first opened its doors in May of this year. In our first year, we have shared previously unknown stories of the Underground Railroad with our community, igniting a renewed feeling of pride in the historical events that took place in the city of Niagara. In our community, 22 percent of the population identifies as African American, with many of those individuals descended from enslaved people, so this history of strength over oppression seems very significant.
We will be creating jobs for the residents in this area, and we will have extended the offers for tourists in Niagara Falls in order to encourage them to stay longer and spend more money in the local economy.
We want to be of assistance to other communities in mining their own history and developing comparable facilities.
Lewis, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License The images are courtesy of the Richard Lewis Media Group, the Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center, and the E.B.
The Nitty Gritty
The Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center, which opened on May 4, 2018, is a museum dedicated to the history of the Niagara Falls Underground Railroad.
What is your staffing situation like?
We have a total of nine part-time employees.
What is your annual budget?
Our annual budget is around $300,000 dollars.
Find out more at theNiagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center website.
The Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center, which opens on May 4, 2018, will have a display of memorabilia (photo by Kim Smith, copyright Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center) Niagara Falls receives hundreds of thousands of people each year. Moreover, according to Bill Bradberry, a local who grew up in the area and who previously served as the city’s administrator, many of them come to watch the famed water rushing over the cliffs and nothing else. Many tourists, and even some locals, are unaware of the pivotal role that the city of Niagara Falls played in the history of the Underground Railroad in the nineteenth century.
- When Bradberry was a child, his mother would tell him stories of another Auburn native, Harriet Tubman, who was one of the most renowned conductors on the Underground Railroad and who brought individuals to safety during the American Civil War.
- Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center, International Suspension Bridge designed by Ferdinand Richardt in 1859, and Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center (Photo courtesy of the Art Gallery of Ontario).
- “If you look at the photographs, everything makes sense,” Bradberry explained.
- It was a lot less difficult than dealing with the vast Lake Erie or Lake Ontario.” The Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center, the city’s first new attraction in 35 years, will be built on the site of the 1863 US Custom House, just adjacent to the railway station.
The goal of the museum is to tell the stories of those who sought freedom — and those who assisted them in their journey — through interactive exhibits, a recreation of the suspension bridge where Tubman and others crossed the imaginary line from slavery to freedom, and voiceovers, among other methods.
Bradberry claims that John Morrison, the headwaiter, whose life story is recounted in the museum, coached the men to march in unison and to put on a show for the tourists during their visit.
About 1860, the Cataract House and Rapids at the Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center were built (image courtesy Niagara Falls Public Library) Ally Spongr, director and curator of the museum, says that despite the fact that she grew up 30 minutes away from where the museum is located, she had never heard these stories before, and that it has altered her perspective of the city.
In the opinion of Saladin Allah, a descendent of slaves who is also a human rights commissioner and preschool teacher in Niagara Falls, these stories are vital to tell.
He was born a slave and later became a resident of Canada.
(Photo courtesy of Kim Smith, used with permission from the Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center) According to Allah, “Many people had a role in the transition from slavery to freedom, and it is crucial that they were everyday people who were supporting freedom seekers – then people experience it in themselves.” While Martin Luther King Jr.
Fergus Bordewich, a historian and author of Bound for Canaan: The Underground Railroad and the War for the Soul of America, says that most of the persons participating in the Underground Railroad were not well-known or celebrated – and that many of them were African-American.
“It’s an extremely important history that was literally forgotten for 100 years because a biracial movement with African Americans as leading agents, motivators, and financiers just did not fit the American way of life during the lengthy Jim Crow era,” said Spongr.
“It is remarkable, but it is not unique.” The historian believes that having a center to tell these tales and remove some of the myths surrounding the Underground Railroad (Bordewich claims that there is still a perception that individuals walked through tunnels) is particularly important at this time.
- That is not the case in the least.
- The importance of knowing about this movement at a time when racism appears to be resurgent in this nation cannot be overstated.
- “John Morrison,” by E.B.
- Lewis) According to Spongr, they intended to produce material that was more than just writing on a wall.
- Lewis to create portraits of the people whose stories they were recounting.
- He went on to conduct his own investigation to find out details such as what kind of clothing people would have worn and what the coaches looked like back then.
- “What do you want to achieve as an artist?” When an opportunity comes itself, it is important to utilize your skill to communicate something you are passionate about.
Telling the Untold Stories of the Underground Railroad
Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center, which opens on May 4, 2018, will feature a display of memorabilia (photo by Kim Smith, copyright Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center) Niagara Falls receives millions of visitors each year. Moreover, according to Bill Bradberry, a local who grew up in the area and who served as the city’s former mayor, many of them come to watch the famed water rushing over the cliffs and nothing else. It is surprising how many tourists, as well as locals, are unaware of how important Niagara Falls was in the history of slavery and its abolition.
- When Bradberry was a child, his mother would tell him stories of another Auburn native, Harriet Tubman, who was one of the most renowned conductors on the Underground Railroad and who brought individuals to safety during the Civil War.
- A view of the International Suspension Bridge, designed by Ferdinand Richardt in 1859 and located in Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center.
- “If you look at the photographs, it makes sense,” Bradberry said of the situation.
- It will be the first new attraction in the city in that time period.
Construction of a replica of the suspension bridge that Harriet Tubman and others used to traverse (photo by Kim Smith, copyright Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center) Cataract House, the largest hotel in Niagara Falls with a wait staff comprised solely of African American males, will be re-created in one of the galleries.
Waiters would assist slaves that customers had brought with them to the restaurant in escaping through the back door while the diners were entertained in the restaurant.
With these memories in mind, Spongr added, “it’s fantastic to gaze at the falls, and I see at them in a different way.” I’m moved by the fact that these were people’s last moments in the realm of slavery, and that they were able to descend a stairway and board a small wooden boat that transported them to freedom in Canada in under 15 minutes.
- According to Saladin Allah, who is descended from slaves and is a human rights commissioner as well as a preschool teacher in Niagara Falls, these stories are essential.
- It made a difference in Allah’s life knowing that his relative assisted his wife and four children relocate to Ontario despite the fact that he was incapacitated as a result of an overseer’s broken arm, says the man.
- According to Allah, “Many people had a role in the transition from slavery to freedom, and it is crucial that they were everyday people who assisted freedom seekers – then people perceive it in themselves.” While Martin Luther King Jr.
- Fergus Bordewich, a historian and author of Bound for Canaan: The Underground Railroad and the War for the Soul of America, notes that most of the persons participating in the Underground Railroad were not well-known or celebrated – and many were African-American.
- “It’s an extremely important history that was literally forgotten for 100 years because a biracial movement with African Americans as leading agents, motivators, and financiers just did not fit the American way of life during the lengthy Jim Crow era,” Spongr explained.
- The fact that she was different did not surprise anyone.
- “It is still widely believed that the leaders were benevolent white folks who were assisting fearful and compliant black people.” That is just incorrect.
African Americans played a significant part in this struggle.
Lewis Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center’s “James Patterson” exhibit is on display (copyright E.B.
As part of their effort to bring the stories to life, they enlisted the help of illustrator and fine artist E.B Lewis, who created portraits of the persons whose stories they were narrating.
Lewis has been working on the black diaspora for the last few years.
Regarding the museum, he described it as “humbling” and “gratifying” to have been able to “make a little contribution.” In your capacity as an artist, what is your purpose?
Now I am able to leave something behind that my great-grandchildren can see and know I was a part of this process.” Opening to the public on May 4, the Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Commission (located at 825 Depot Avenue West in Niagara Falls, New York) will welcome visitors.
New Niagara Falls museum built on ‘untold’ history of Underground Railroad
The Underground Railroad is the focus of a new Niagara Falls museum that was constructed on hitherto unknown history. Thomas J. Prohaska contributed to this article. It will be one of the nation’s historical places to remember the voyage of freedom seekers to Canada when it opens its doors on May 4 in Niagara Falls. However, it will be the only one near the international border where persons fleeing slavery will be able to cross to ensure that they will not be apprehended and returned to servitude.
- At the same time, we are not attempting to cover every aspect of the Underground Railroad’s history “According to William Bradberry, head of the committee that oversaw the project’s execution.
- We’re concentrating on what occurred here.” It is a narrative with a lot of historical significance.
- It is a monument to freedom and the brave people who broke federal law in order to defend what they believed to be a higher law of decency and humanity, after more than a decade of plodding progress and false starts.
- “The history of the Underground Railroad in Niagara Falls is so significant, and it has been entirely untold until now,” said Ally Spongr, the museum’s director and curator.
- That is really effective.
- As John H.
- Dyster stated that “people will come at all times of the year.”
Ms. Denise Easterling has been involved in community programs in Niagara Falls for many years, and she is the vice chairwoman of the commission. “The timing couldn’t be more perfect,” she remarked of the opportunity. “Take a look at the collective psychology of the globe. It appears that the polar opposite of freedom is spreading throughout the world.” Springing to life, Easterling expressed delight at the progress of the museum’s construction. “This physical structure resembles the movement in so many ways because it has successfully brought the people together.
It takes a combination of all of these distinct aspects to bring this project to fruition.
Not for me, but for the fact that we have distributed this to others, “Easterling shared his thoughts. According to Hassan Ford, who will be working as a visitor experience consultant at the center, “people in our communities are now able to hear what truly happened.”
Creating a museum
In the former federal Custom House, which was erected in 1863 near the New York end of the old bridge, is the museum, which is located on the first level. Today, the Whirlpool Rapids Bridge crosses the Niagara River in a location that is nearly identical to that of the original bridge. The facility, which is owned by the City of Niagara Falls, was refurbished and expanded primarily for the purpose of becoming an Amtrak rail station. The city, on the other hand, set aside around 2,000 square feet for the Underground Railroad museum.
Walker and Kevin E.
State funds began to flow in 2008, when the State Legislature established a committee to work on a museum dedicated to the Underground Railroad in Niagara Falls.
In fact, the casino money paid the full $1 million-plus construction cost of the Heritage Center, and it was anticipated that it would continue to finance it.
In the meanwhile, Bradberry stated, “we’re in a constant state of prayer, hoping that the state and the Seneca Nation of Indians can come to an agreement.” In the meanwhile, Bradberry is banking on the museum’s gate earnings – which are $10 for adults and $6 to $8 for kids, depending on their age – as well as prospective private-sector collaborations to keep it alive for the time being.
City of freedom
The Niagara Falls area was well-known across the United States even before the Civil War as a haven for persons fleeing slavery. According to Bradberry, “those who lived here during that time were really proud of what they were accomplishing at the time.” In the event that you managed to make your way up here, you may live freely and publicly without fear of being troubled, unless you were intentionally targeted. An exhibit at the Heritage Center includes a clipping from a New Orleans newspaper from the 1840s, which advised visitors to the Falls not to stay at the Cataract House, the city’s largest hotel, because its staff included people who were experts at assisting slaves traveling with their owners to escape.
“I believe that John Morrison is a hero who deserves to be recognized on the same platform as Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass,” Bradberry remarked.
Tubman stated as much in an autobiographical essay published in 1869, in which she described a railroad bridge with a view of the waterfalls as her inspiration.
Chambers, chairman of the History Department at Niagara University, and William H.
“She’d come through here a number of times. We have one that we can document. We have that watertight evidence on this one occasion, but we also have other references to her showing up at other occasions, so we’re not worried “Bradberry shared his thoughts.
Why not Buffalo?
Buffalo was also a stop on the Underground Railroad, from which enslaved persons were able to cross the Niagara River and enter Canada. From Broderick Park, freedom seekers took refuge at the Michigan Street Baptist Church and then across the river to safety. However, Buffalo does not have a museum dedicated to this period of time. “It all comes down to money,” Karen Stanley Fleming, commissioner of the Michigan Street African-American Heritage Corridor, said in an interview. Unlike Niagara Falls, Fleming’s group is “raising money in little pieces,” as opposed to Niagara Falls’ “raising money in large chunks.” Fleming does not consider the Niagara Falls location to be a competitor.
It has to be in both locations because each geography has its own tale to tell, and it can’t be in just one “Fleming made the statement.
Doyle asked, a retired teacher and local author on black history, that “we can’t have a decent museum to highlight the history of fugitive slaves as they came through?” “I commend the City of Niagara Falls, but what is wrong with the City of Buffalo that we can’t have a decent museum to highlight the history of fugitive slaves as they came through?” Doyle questioned why state authorities had not set aside a portion of the region’s Buffalo Billion economic development funds to assist in the establishment of a museum in downtown Buffalo that would be near to the Michigan Street African-American Heritage Corridor, as has been done in other cities.
“I’m not going to take any excuses,” Doyle stated.
This is what I’ve been hoping for a long time: for someone to pay attention to the past.” The most intelligent approach to begin your day.