Center City Philadelphia Tour of Underground Railroad Sites-Saturday October 25, 2014

These are mainly Historical Markers where buildings once stood and incidents once took place as well as a couple of location that are resources in studying this history. This tour is an introduction to some amazing people, places and events, which we hope you will want to know more about. We will discuss the significance of each marker as we travel from place to place. Bus leaves Mother Bethel at 10:30am

10:00am – Gather at Mother Bethel AME Church, 419 S. 6th Street

The Richard Allen Museum of  Mother Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church is an institution dedicated to the collection, preservation, interpretation and presentation of public documents and artifacts that chronicle Richard Allen¹s founding of Mother Bethel and the subsequent development of the African Methodist Episcopal denomination. Tours are free, but donations are encouraged.

Lombard Street Riot, 6th & Lombard Streets

Marker Text: Here on August 1, 1842 an angry mob of whites attacked a parade celebrating Jamaican Emancipation Day. A riot ensued. African Americans were beaten and their homes looted. The rioting lasted for 3 days. A local church & abolition meeting place were destroyed by fire.

Free African Society, 6th & Lombard

Marker Text: Established in 1787 under the leadership of Richard Allen and Absolom Jones, this organization fostered identity, leadership, and unity among Blacks and became the forerunner of the first African-American churches in this city.

William Still, 244 S 12th St

Marker Text: While living here, he was an Underground Railroad agent who helped slaves escape and kept records so relatives could find them later. A wealthy coal merchant, Still also helped found the first Black YMCA.

Octavius V. Catto, 812 South Street

Marker Text: An early graduate of the Institute for Colored Youth, Catto, who lived here, was an educator, Union army major and political organizer. In 1871 he was assassinated by rioters while urging Blacks to vote. His death was widely mourned.

Elizabeth Taylor Greenfield, 1013 Rodman Street

Marker Text: Greenfield, who lived here, was one of the 19th century’s leading singers, known as the “Black Swan” because of her great vocal range. Her performances were hailed in the U.S. and in England where she sang before the Queen.

Jacob White, 1032 Lombard Street

Marker Text: A Black educator who lived here, White was the principal of the Robert Vaux School for forty years. He was a founder of the city’s first Black baseball club, the Pythians, and the first president of the Frederick Douglass Memorial Hospital.

James Forten, 336 Lombard Street

Marker Text: A wealthy sail maker who employed multi-racial craftsmen, Forten was a leader of the African-American community in Philadelphia and a champion of reform causes. The American Antislavery Society was organized in his house here in 1833.

Robert Purvis – 270 Lombard

Marker Text: An Abolitionist, Purvis fought for the rights of blacks through his lecturing, writing, and activity in antislavery societies. As an agent for the Underground Railroad, he built a secret area at his house to hide slaves.

Philadelphia Female Anti- Slavery Society, 107 N 5th Street

Marker Text: Organized in 1833 by Quaker abolitionist Lucretia Mott, this society, headquartered here, originally consisted of sixty women who sought to end slavery. After the Civil War, the society supported the cause of the freed slaves.

Pennsylvania Hall, 6th & Haines Streets (just south of Race Street)

Marker Text: Built on this site in 1838 by the Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society as a meeting place for abolitionists, this hall was burned to the ground by anti-black rioters three days after it was first opened.

Lucretia C. Mott – 136 N. Ninth St

Marker Text: Home of the ardent Quakerress, Lucretia C. Mott (1793-1880). Her most notable work was in connection with antislavery, women’s rights, temperance and peace.

Pennsylvania Abolition Society, East Side of Front Street between Walnut & Chestnut

Marker Text: Founded here, 1775, as the Society for the Relief of Free Negroes Unlawfully Held in Bondage. In 1787 it became the Pennsylvania Abolition Society which sought social, educational and employment opportunities for Blacks.

Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, 1006 Bainbridge

Marker Text: An author, lecturer, and social activist, Harper lived here and devoted her life to championing the rights of slaves and free Blacks. She advocated education as a way of advancement for Black Americans.

Liberation of Jane Johnson, Penn’s Landing Near Walnut St Walkway at Seaport Museum

Marker Text: In 1855, an enslaved woman and her two sons found freedom aided by abolitionists William Still, Passmore Williamson, and other Underground Railroad activists. They escaped from their Southern owner while being transported through Philadelphia and settled later in Boston. The incident, which occurred nearby, and Williamson’s subsequent imprisonment and famous trial attracted national attention, further intensifying the North-South conflict.

12:30 – Lunch at the Bourse, 111 South Independence Mall E

The concept of the Bourse – meaning a place of exchange – was brought to Philadelphia in 1890 by George E. Bartol, a prosperous Philadelphia grain and commodities exporter. While in Europe, Bartol visited the great Bourse in Hamburg, Germany. Upon his return to the United States, Bartol called together the most influential businessmen and merchants in the city, asking them to pool their resources to construct the city’s own business center – a Philadelphia Bourse. Celebrating over 100 years as a center for commerce and trade, The Bourse is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Today, it is one of Philadelphia’s leading commercial complexes, home to 24 retail and food service stores and more than 50 businesses.

1:30pm – walk to Independence Hall – 520 Chestnut Street

They risked everything — “their lives, their fortune and their sacred honor.” During the blistering summer of 1776, 56 courageous men gathered at the Pennsylvania State House and defied the King of England. Eleven years later, representatives from 12 states gathered to shape the U.S. Constitution, finally creating one unified nation. Our interest is that the trials related to the Christiana Riot and the Jane Johnson affair took place here.

2:00pm – Philadelphia History Museum, 15 South 7th Street – Quest for Freedom

Fourteen objects from the collection of the Philadelphia History Museum at the Atwater Kent each reveal a different story about the quest for freedom from slavery. Some objects, like the American Anti-Slavery Society Declaration and the presentation pitcher, tell stories about African Americans and whites working together through organizations to end slavery. Others, like the shackles, reveal the inhumanity of slavery. The story of the free labor child’s dress is an example of non-violent resistance as a way to challenge slavery. It stands in stark contrast to the story told by the portrait of John Brown, who supported violence as a strategy to end slavery. The dramatic story behind the coverlet reveals how the network of Underground Railroad activists worked to support people seeking freedom from slavery. What did Philadelphians do to advance the cause of freedom for enslaved people in their city and the country at large? What stories about the quest for freedom from slavery can we learn from the objects Philadelphians created, bought, and used in the struggle for freedom?

Other Historical Markers in Center City Philadelphia

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