Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center

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Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center
Niagara Falls customhouse.jpg
Niagara Falls Customhouse, home of the center
Established2018
LocationNiagara Falls,  New York
TypeAfrican American history
DirectorAlly Spongr
Public transit accessAmtrak Amtrak (Niagara Falls Station and Customhouse Interpretive Center)
Bus transport NFTA Route 50
Bus transport Discover Niagara
Websiteniagarafallsundergroundrailroad.org

The Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center is a museum in Niagara Falls, New York based on the history and legacy of the Underground Railroad. Opened in 2018, it is located on the first floor of a historic former U.S. Customhouse built in 1863 at the Niagara Falls Station and Customhouse Interpretive Center.

History[edit]

The idea of commemorating the Underground Railroad in Niagara Falls picked up steam in 2007 when former City Council Chairman Charles A. Walker and Kevin E. Cottrell pitched an idea they called "North Star on North Main." Funding from New York State began in 2008, when the State Legislature created the Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Commission to work on an Underground Railroad museum in Niagara Falls. The following year, a state law governing Niagara Falls' use of Seneca Niagara Casino money was amended to give the commission $350,000 a year, a figure that was reduced to $200,000 a year in 2011.[1]

Opened on May 4, 2018, the museum is sanctioned by the National Park Service as part of the Niagara Falls National Heritage Area and is operated in a partnership between the National Park Service and the Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Commission.

Exhibits[edit]

Described as an experiential museum, the museum includes such exhibits as "One More River to Cross" featuring the history of the Underground Railroad in Niagara Falls, the role played by the location and geography of Niagara Falls, and the actions of residents particularly African-American residents. Other exhibits include a recreation of the Cataract House, a Niagara Falls hotel that employed an entirely African-American wait staff, who helped numbers of former slaves to freedom in Canada[2] and a recreation of the International Suspension Bridge, built in 1848, and rebuilt in 1855 to incorporate rail traffic, where Harriet Tubman and other former slaves crossed into Canada.[3][4]

In 2019, "One More River to Cross" won an Award of Excellence by the American Association for State and Local History (AASLH).[5]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "New Niagara Falls museum built on 'untold' history of Underground Railroad". The Buffalo News. 2018-04-29. Retrieved 2020-01-04.
  2. ^ Ian Elsner (2018-02-19). "The Underground Railroad in Niagara Falls with Bill Bradberry". Museum Archipelago (Podcast). Museum Archipelago. Retrieved 2019-02-02.
  3. ^ Fink, James (February 19, 2018). "Niagara Falls Underground Railroad museum to open May 4". www.bizjournals.com. Retrieved January 4, 2020.
  4. ^ Mroziak, Michael. "Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center opens for visitors". Retrieved 2018-05-27.
  5. ^ "'One More River to Cross': Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center Wins Prestigious Award (U.S. National Park Service)". www.nps.gov. Retrieved 2020-01-04.

External Links[edit]