The history of the Underground Railroad is the subject of the exhibits of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, which is located in the central business district of Cincinnati, Ohio area, in the United States. The Center for the Abolition of Slavery and the Securing of Freedom for All People was opened in 2004 and pay honor to all efforts to “abolish human servitude and achieve freedom for all people.”
It is one of a new group of “museums of conscience” in the United States, along with the Museum of Tolerance, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, and the National Civil Rights Museum. Other museums in this new group include the National Civil Rights Museum and the Museum of Tolerance. In addition to providing visitors with information regarding the fight for freedom in the past, in the present, and in the future, the Center makes an effort to provoke visitors to consider the significance of freedom in relation to their own lives. Because of its location, it is recognized as having played an important role in the history of the Underground Railroad. Thousands of slaves escaped to freedom from the southern slave states by crossing the Ohio River and making their way to Cincinnati. A great number of people found safety in the city, and some of them remained there only momentarily before continuing their journey to Canada’s northern provinces in search of freedom.
The Freedom Center, which cost a total of $110 million and took ten years to plan, raise money for, and build, finally opened its doors to the general public in August 2004, and the official opening ceremonies took place on August 23. Boora Architects, located in Portland, Oregon, served as the structure’s design architect, while Blackburn Architects, located in Indianapolis, served as the architect of record. The building measures 158,000 square feet. There are three pavilions dedicated to honoring bravery, teamwork, and tenacity. The east and west sides of the building are clad with rough travertine stone from Tivoli, Italy, while the north and south sides are covered in copper panels. The “undulating character” of the building, as described by Walter Blackburn, who was considered to be one of its key architects before his passing, is meant to symbolize the fields and the river that fugitive slaves had to cross in order to reach freedom. At the groundbreaking event that took place in June of 2002, notable guests included First Lady Laura Bush, Oprah Winfrey, and Muhammad Ali.