VISIT PHILADELPHIA® has published a guide for visitors and residents interested in exploring the Philadelphia region’s connections to the Underground Railroad. The six-panel brochure details historical attractions (the Liberty Bell Center, Mother Bethel A.M.E., Belmont Mansion, Johnson House, Fair Hill burial ground), historical markers (London Coffee House, Free African Society and homes of Cyrus Bustill, Frances E.W. Harper, Robert Purvis, William Still, William Whipper) and city and regional libraries, archives and tours. Visitor demand for this information inspired the piece’s creation.
“The Underground Railroad is an undeniably important part of American history,” said Jenea Robinson, senior media relations manager, VISIT PHILADELPHIA. “Philadelphia played a very interesting role in this movement. The city took part in the trans-Atlantic slave trade, but also had a significant population of freed African-Americans and others who tried to make things right. We are hoping this brochure will help guide visitors to places that move them in meaningful ways.”
The brochure is available at the Independence Visitor Center, the African American Museum in Philadelphia, the Johnson House in historic Germantown and more. It is also available online at: visitphilly.com/undergroundrailroad.
Here’s a look at some of the sites—all open to the public—featured in the brochure:
1. Liberty Bell Center, home to the famously cracked Bell, a symbol adopted by abolitionist societies in the 1830s and later by freedom seekers around the world. 6th & Market Streets, nps.gov/inde
2. President’s House: Freedom and Slavery in the Making of a New Nation, memorial site of the home where President George Washington lived and enslaved nine Africans, including Oney Judge, who escaped bondage. 6th & Market Streets, nps.gov/inde
3. Mother Bethel A.M.E. Church, the active flagship of the nation’s first black denomination, where fugitives sought refuge, and Harriet Tubman, Lucretia Mott, Frederick Douglass and William Still spoke from the pulpit. 6th & Lombard Streets, motherbethel.org
4. Historic St. George’s Methodist Church, house of worship where Reverends Richard Allen and Absalom Jones became the first licensed African-American Methodist ministers and led a walkout over a discriminatory seating policy. 235 N. 4th Street, historicstgeorges.org
5. Belmont Mansion, 1742 home of Judge Richard Peters, who purchased and indentured slaves (and allowed some, such as Cornelia Wells, to buy their freedom), hid fugitives escaping slavery via the nearby railway line in the attic; onsite Underground Railroad Museum tells of Cornelia Wells, a freed African-American. 2000 Belmont Mansion Drive, Fairmount Park
6. Historic Fair Hill, circa 1703 Quaker burial ground, the final resting place of Lucretia Mott, Robert Purvis and other abolitionists; now also an environmental education center surrounded by murals portraying 300 years of social justice in Philadelphia. 2901 Germantown Avenue, historicfairhill.com
7. Johnson House, the well-preserved home of Quakers Samuel and Jennet Johnson, who took in and cared for escaped slaves in the 1800s. 6306 Germantown Avenue, Germantown, johnsonhouse.org
8. Historical Society of Pennsylvania, repository of hundreds of printed items, manuscripts and graphic items relating to the abolitionist movement, including a collection of manumission papers. 1301 Locust Street, hsp.org
9. Library Company of Philadelphia, Benjamin Franklin-founded organization with a 13,000-piece Afro-American Collection that includes documents and books about slavery and abolitionism. 1314 Locust Street, librarycompany.org
10. Charles L. Blockson Afro-American Collection at Temple University, library with narratives by Sojourner Truth and Frederick Douglass, first editions by Phyllis Wheatley, W.E.B. DuBois and more. Sullivan Hall, 1300 W. Berks Street, library/temple.edu/collections/blockson
11. Chester County Historical Society, home to artifacts and manuscripts that detail the bucolic county’s role in abolitionist history and the Underground Railroad. 225 N. High Street, West Chester, chestercohistorical.org
12. Kennett Underground Railroad Center, Chester County base for tours of Underground Railroad sites that depart from Brandywine Valley Tourism Information Center. 300 Greenwood Road, Kennett Square, kennettundergroundrr.org
13. National Archives at Philadelphia, Northeast Philadelphia site for researching ancestry of people who lived in Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia. 14700 Townsend Road, archives.gov/philadelphia
VISIT PHILADELPHIA® is our name and our mission. As the region’s official tourism marketing agency, we build Greater Philadelphia’s image, drive visitation and boost the economy.
On Greater Philadelphia’s official visitor website and blog, visitphilly.com and uwishunu.com, visitors can explore things to do, upcoming events, themed itineraries and hotel packages. Compelling photography and videos, interactive maps and detailed visitor information make the sites effective trip-planning tools. Along with Visit Philly social media channels, the online platforms communicate directly with consumers. Travelers can also call and stop into the Independence Visitor Center for additional information and tickets.