Niagara Gazette

Opinion

February 12, 2013

BRADBERRY: Underground Railroad sites dot city, region

Niagara Gazette — As some say, timing is everything, so when the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation established the Underground Railroad Heritage Area in the City of Niagara Falls last July 3 they officially blew the doors off the inertia that once held captive for far too long, one of the most powerful historical assets the city holds in its cash convertible tourism inventory.

Announcing the state’s unanimous approval of the Niagara Falls Underground Heritage Area Management Plan, Rose Harvey, Commissioner of state parks commended the Falls, the Heritage Area Commission, and the consultants who compiled the management plan for a job well done, noting that “Niagara Falls has a proud and well-recognized association with the history of the Underground Railroad, one of the greatest social justice movements in our nation's history.”

The plan, prepared on behalf of the Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Area Commission by a consultant team that included edr Companies, New York Historical Research Associates, Crawford & Stearns Architects and the Herzig Group was also approved by the city council and unanimously endorsed by the New York State Heritage Area Advisory Council.

It includes detailed recommendations for preserving and interpreting historic resources within the Heritage Area, as well as developing economic opportunities and promoting heritage tourism in Niagara Falls and the surrounding region.

Of particular and immediate interest because it identifies a number of buildings (and sites of former buildings) that are still standing today as testament to their significance is the “Survey of Sites Relating to the Underground Railroad, Abolitionism, and African American Life in Niagara Falls and Surrounding Area, 1820-1880,” by Judith Wellman, Ph.D. The complete historic resources survey report is available at www.niagarafallsundergroundrailroad.org.

Excerpted entirely from Dr. Wellman’s Survey, here’s a quick peek at two of the buildings that are still occupied and standing proud in Niagara Falls and two sites within a few miles of the Falls in Lewiston and Youngstown, but there as the survey shows, is so much more …

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