Niagara Falls, ca. 1882

The present-day City of Niagara Falls, formerly known as the Villages of Niagara and Suspension Bridge, played a critical role in the Underground Railroad.

Niagara Falls was an established border crossing that was readily accessible via numerous transportation routes, including the Erie Canal. There was a well-established network of Abolitionists and anti-slavery activists in western New York.

By the mid-nineteenth century, Niagara Falls was already a renowned tourist destination. The many hotels provided employment for a significant portion of the villages’ large African American population, some of whom were free and many of whom were likely fugitives that had escaped from slavery.

A primary goal of the Underground Railroad Heritage Area Commission is to rediscover and promote this important aspect of the City’s history for the benefit of both residents and visitors.