Exploring the Underground Railroad in Queens

Chanteé Lans Image
Monday, February 13, 2023
Exploring the Underground Railroad in Queens
The Underground Railroad continues to be both hidden and in plain sight. Chantee Lans has the story.

FLUSHING, Queens (WABC) -- The Underground Railroad continues to be both hidden and in plain sight.

"This was the major hub of the Underground Railroad in Flushing and it belonged to the Aspinwall family, John Aspinwall and the estate was here for 200 years," said Jason Antos, Executive Director, Queens Historical Society.

Antos says this portion was located on Northern Boulevard near Union Street.

"It was a secret operation as we all know to help people running away from slavery, Blacks running away from the south, coming to the north and it was a very intricate network that helped people," Antos said.

Another part of that network was half a mile away at the John Bowne house.

It's also the oldest house in Queens, built in 1661 by Quakers.

"They're probably the first group of white Americans who became seriously concerned about the issue of slavery," said Charlotte Jackson, Bowne House Archivist.

Historians believe that runaway slaves hid behind doors in the servants' quarters and throughout the property.

The Bowne family were conductors of the Underground Railroad.

One of them was Robert Bowne Parsons.

"He was one of the three brothers who served as conductors and fundraisers for the Underground Railroad," Jackson said. "This letter is from the Reverend Simeon Smith Jocelyn."

The original letter from 1850 was sent from a prominent abolitionist minister asking for permission to hide a free Black man from Brooklyn in fear of being caught by a bounty hunter.

Did you know that Citi Field was the site of the Underground? In fact, there's a strip where slaves hid. It was called Saint Ronan's Well or Yonkers Island.

"In the high tide, it would cause it to become a virtual island so it was a good hiding place," Antos said.

To this day, details continue to emerge.

"It's a very daring operation of which and we are still learning about the facts to this very day," Antos said.

Churches were also staple sanctuaries for slaves seeking freedom.

The Macedonia A.M.E. Church in Flushing was also believed to have been a stop on the Underground Railroad.

For information on taking a walking tour along the Flushing Freedom Mile and to see these historic landmarks visit:




WATCH | Robin Roberts surprises nurses at NYC hospital 10 years later

Robin Roberts surprised the nurses to say thank you live on 'Good Morning America.'


* More Queens news

* Send us a news tip

* Download the abc7NY app for breaking news alerts

* Follow us on YouTube

Submit a tip or story idea to Eyewitness News

Have a breaking news tip or an idea for a story we should cover? Send it to Eyewitness News using the form below. If attaching a video or photo, terms of use apply.