Syracuse’s central location in New York, and proximity to Canada, played an important role in the Underground Railroad.
“Syracuse had long been a hub of anti-slavery activity. Even before the 1840s Syracuse had an active ‘vigilance committee’ fighting against the re-enslavement of runaways. The large salt mines in the area brought settlers from Northern cities to work and trade along the Erie Canal. At one point 90 percent of the nation’s salt came from Syracuse. The canal brought tradesmen, itinerant workers, day laborers and African Americans both free and fugitive to the area. The diverse cluster of travelers revealed revolutionary ideas about living in America following the Civil War.”
Learn more by reading this great piece by National Geographic, featuring OHA Curator of History, Bob Searing: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/culture/2019/02/great-central-depot-underground-railroad-new-york/