Stop on historic Underground Railroad to be marked in Paterson

A roadway in Paterson is offering a new perspective as the sacred site of the Underground Railroad. (6/27/14)

PATERSON - A roadway in Paterson is offering a new perspective as the sacred site of the Underground Railroad.

The block of Broadway was once home to the Excelsior Coffee and Spice Factory, where a wealthy white man and his African-American apprentice did far more than harvest coffee beans. 

In the mid-19th century, runaway slaves hid in their factory corners and waited for the right moment to continue their journey to freedom. 

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On Friday, local historians honored owner Josiah Huntoon and William Van Rensalier. Jimmy Richardson, the founder of the Freedom Boulevard Project, say they are celebrating those who made the ultimate escape.

"They helped runaway slaves come through Paterson, leaving to go to Canada," Richardson says. "And that's what makes this site so significant."

The sacred site will soon house a monument and New Jersey's first ever Underground Railroad flag, created by students at Paterson Charter School.

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