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The Rochester Underground Railroad byway project’s first public meeting



Rochester, New York – The New York Corridor, a newly proposed scenic byway, aims to honor Rochester’s significant role in the struggle for freedom during the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad.

A large crowd gathered at Rochester’s Legacy Drama House to learn more about the projected almost 500-mile path that will follow the Underground Railroad tracks of abolitionists like Harriet Tubman through New York State.
The concept to create a picturesque byway would start in New York City and go past Niagara Falls.

The Underground Railroad Consortium of New York made the intended intentions known to the community for the first time on Monday.

“I think it’s a very important project and I think that we need to know so we can be involved in the community,” said Mordeci Jones, a Rochester resident.

The Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad New York Corridor would pass through Geneva, Auburn, Rochester, and run close to Route 31 in Rochester if it were approved. The trail would introduce tourists to the rich heritage of the abolitionist struggle in New York State. On the other hand, some people arrived at the open meeting nervous.

“I didn’t know anything about the corridors,” said Tonya Brooks, a member of GirlTrek Rochester. “I just wanted to know what it was about, what are they doing know, and just to find out if there was another political showmanship or was it actually that was something will help us here in Rochester area.”

After learning more about the project, Brooks expressed her opinion that it is off to a solid start.

“They talked about agencies and civil groups that were going to be showcasing along the way,” Brooks said. “My question is how are you going to bring them in? How are you going to make sure they have the opportunity to either bid for it or compete for it?”

The state recently granted the Consortium a grant of over $500 million; but, to disseminate information and solicit public input, further public meetings are required.
Brooks expressed her hope that this effort will bring people from different backgrounds together.

“I am optimistic,” Brooks said. “What I think and what I would like to see is that this is an opportunity that Blacks and Whites in America could actually work together for the common good.”

Currently, in its early stages of preparation, the group has stated that the planned strategy will include “multi-year process.”