9. Underground Railroad Safe Houses and Churches
New York City was home to many important abolitionists, and Brooklyn especially was an active hub of abolitionist activism in the 1850s and 60s. Many Downtown Brooklyn houses and churches functioned as safe houses on the Underground Railroad during this time. In 2007, Duffield Street was renamed “Abolitionist Place” by the City of New York. Buildings believed to be safe houses include 223, 225, 227, 231, 233, and 235 Duffield Street, in addition to the African Wesleyan Methodist Episcopal Church located in MetroTech Center.
Plymouth Church, located on the border between Downtown Brooklyn and Brooklyn Heights, is an especially important landmark: Henry Ward Beecher, the brother of Harriet Beecher Stowe, began preaching there in 1847, and invited important figures including Sojourner Truth, Frederick Douglass, Charles Dickens, and Walt Whitman. Later Martin Luther King, Jr. would recite early versions of his “I Have a Dream” speech there. The church also has a piece of Plymouth Rock on display.