News Release - Kelsey’s Landing at Lower Falls Designated a National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Site

City of Rochester

 News Release

(Thursday, June 8, 2017) – Mayor Lovely A. Warren announced today that Kelsey’s Landing, which was located along the river in Maplewood Park, has been designated as an official National Underground Railroad Network (Network to Freedom) site by the National Park Service.

“Rochester was a major destination on the path to freedom for countless slaves,” said Mayor Warren. “This designation is a lasting testament to our city’s deep legacy as a proponent of liberty and social justice. I applaud the Lower Falls Foundation for their efforts to bring national recognition to a site in which Frederick Douglass and so many other heroes directed slaves to their eventual freedom. It is important to remember our past as we chart a future of safer more vibrant neighborhoods, more jobs and better educational opportunities for our citizens.”

“The Lower Falls Foundation sees Kelsey’s Landing as such a prominent part of the Underground Railroad network in Rochester that we wanted to have it recognized with the other 44 Network to Freedom sites across New York State,” said Bill Self Co-Founder of the Lower Falls Foundation. “We knew this designation would honor Frederick Douglass and the many families in Rochester and Monroe County who helped African American citizens find their freedom in Canada. We also felt that this national recognition would call attention to the historical significance of the Lower Falls Gorge and build community pride in the nearby neighborhoods. We thank Mayor Warren and the City’s Department of Recreation and Youth Services for their strong support in getting this historic site the status it deserves.”

Constructed in 1844 in the Genesee River Gorge just north of the Lower Falls, Kelsey’s Landing often served as the final stop on the Underground Railroad. After the Fugitive Slave Act was passed, the port harbored escaped slaves, who would go on to board cargo ships bound for Canada and eventual freedom. Located as far inland as ships could travel before reaching the falls, Kelsey’s Landing served as Rochester’s dominant port until rail lines connecting Downtown Rochester and the port at Charlotte eventually rendered it obsolete.

The new designation places Kelsey’s Landing among several National Underground Railroad historic places across the country which are eligible to take advantage of a network of educational and marketing resources. For more information on the National Underground Railroad Network, visit


News Media: For more information, contact Press Officer Jessica Alaimo, 428-7135.