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A statue of Harriet Tubman stands outside the courthouse in Auburn, New York
Kyle McCarthy
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  • States:
    New York

Don’t miss the chance to learn important stories told in unique and powerful ways.

Across the state of New York, you’ll find museums, monuments and historic sites dedicated to Black artists, activists and change-makers who made their mark on the USA. From Harriet Tubman’s farm estate to the bright lights of the Apollo Theater, discover landmarks that pay homage to the Black Americans who shaped New York’s rich culture.

Explore Civil Rights and Abolition Historic Sites

Take a journey to understand the profound struggles and triumphs of those who fought for freedom and equality. The Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic Landmark in Peterboro is a testament to the tireless anti-slavery, suffrage and reform activities of abolitionist Gerrit Smith. The site recounts the stories of 19th-century reformers and freedom-seeking African Americans who met here with Smith.

At the John Brown Farm State Historic Site in Lake Placid, you’ll find the home and final resting place of anti-slavery advocate John Brown, who led a raid on an arsenal in Harpers Ferry, Virginia, and was sentenced to death. The site became a gathering place for fellow abolitionists, and today you can take a guided tour and hike the surrounding trails.

In Seneca Falls, the National Women’s Hall of Fame features exhibits and video displays dedicated to courageous and influential Black women who fought for civil rights, including Fannie Lou Hamer, Coretta Scott King and Rosa Parks.

An idyllic scene at the John Brown Farm State Historic Site in Lake Placid

An idyllic scene at the John Brown Farm State Historic Site in Lake Placid
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Celebrate Black Arts and Culture

The cultural contributions of Black Americans in New York are innumerable, and a prime example is the Colored Musicians Club & Jazz Museum in Buffalo. This historic social club was founded in 1896 by Black musicians who were barred from the local all-white musician’s union. Catch a live performance at this venue where jazz legends like Duke Ellington and Miles Davis once played.

New York City’s Harlem neighborhood was the heart of the Harlem Renaissance in the early 1900s, a prolific era of music, art and literature by Black artists who lived and worked there. Visit the historic Apollo Theater, a longstanding performance venue, as well as historic sites like the Langston Hughes House and Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture to appreciate a variety of artistic endeavors born out of that creative explosion.

In the summer, many cities statewide host Juneteenth celebrations to commemorate the official end of slavery in the USA. Parks and neighborhoods across New York City host community festivals, fashion shows, concerts and art installations, while the city of Buffalo has been celebrating the annual holiday with parades, live entertainment and community education events since 1976.

For a local look at African American art, culture, music and traditions, check out the Joysetta & Julius Pearse African American Museum of Nassau County in Hempstead. The galleries and rotating exhibits place an emphasis on artists from Long Island, and you can participate in activities like crafting circles and jewelry-making classes.

The interior of the world-famous Apollo Theater in New York City

The interior of the world-famous Apollo Theater in New York City
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The Apollo Theater

Discover Harriet Tubman’s Legacy and the Underground Railroad

To gain a comprehensive understanding about one of the most influential activists in American history, visit the Harriet Tubman National Historical Park in Auburn. This site was the main hub of operations for orchestrating the Underground Railroad, a network of volunteers who helped enslaved people escape to freedom along a series of secret pathways. A tour of her home, farm and estate provides fascinating insights into her life and work.

You can dive deeper into Underground Railroad history at the Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center. The interactive exhibits and guided tours showcase the stories of brave freedom seekers and the abolitionists who assisted them. In Keeseville, galleries and film presentations afford an authentic look at New York’s role in the effort to abolish slavery at the North Star Underground Railroad Museum.

For further exploration, use the Travel with Tubman virtual trip-planning tool launched by the National Park Service to find additional heritage sites related to the Underground Railroad and Harriet Tubman’s enduring legacy across New York and beyond.

A statue of Harriet Tubman at the NYS Equal Rights Heritage Center in the activist’s hometown, Auburn

A statue of Harriet Tubman at the NYS Equal Rights Heritage Center in the activist’s hometown, Auburn
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Tour Cayuga

Getting There

New York State is easily accessible via several major airports. LaGuardia Airport (LGA), John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) and Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) are all located near New York City. Buffalo Niagara International Airport (BUF) and Albany International Airport (ALB) provide convenient access to upstate destinations.