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New scenic byway proposed to honor New York’s abolition history

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  • Staff Report 

A new scenic byway is being proposed in New York to celebrate significant sites along the Underground Railroad, with a route passing through Rochester. The initiative, led by the Underground Railroad Consortium of New York State and supported by Karen Kühl of the Cayuga County Tourism Office, aims to establish the “Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad New York Corridor.” This byway will guide visitors through historical locations across Cayuga, Tompkins, and Seneca Counties, rooted in the area’s rich abolitionist history.

The development of this nearly 500-mile route has been fueled by a substantial grant and requires the collaboration of each municipality it traverses. The process to formalize the byway includes public consultations and strategic planning in line with New York State Department of Transportation guidelines, marking a multi-year effort to enrich historical tourism and education in the region.

The first community meeting took place at the Legacy Drama House in Rochester, hosted by Dr. Mary Bisbee Burrows. This meeting was significant not just for planning but also as a symbolic gesture of reconciliation and remembrance of the area’s profound ties to figures like Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass. The involvement of local descendants of formerly enslaved African-Americans underscores the deep personal and communal connections to the project.

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