PATERSON - A property in Paterson that once served as a stop on the Underground Railroad is being honored with a park and monument.
Members of the Paterson Historic Preservation Commission are working to educate the public about the Huntoon-Van Rensalier Station of the Underground Railroad. The site is being commemorated with a park and monument honoring a white factory owner and his apprentice, a free black man, who helped runaway slaves out of a factory at the location in the 1800s.
The Underground Railroad monument is part of a larger effort by Paterson to highlight the city's African-American history and culture. Bethel Church in Paterson is one of the last places Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke. Across from the church is an empty lot that will soon be transformed into a memorial plaza dedicated to King.
"Often times we're characterized as a city with hopelessness and aimlessness," says Paterson Mayor Jeffery Jones. "It's time to raise the other story: what we actually have contributed and how great we are and what our potential can be."
Organizers hope to eventually create a walking heritage trail at Paterson's Underground Railroad stop. They are also applying for the site to be on the National Park Service's "Underground Railroad Network to Freedom."
For extended interviews on Paterson's African-American history, watch the clip to the left or click News 12 Extra on Optimum TV channel 612.