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As of 2017, this site is a La Colombe cafe.

Frederick Douglass: Although not his permanent residence, Douglass frequently stayed in the house of noted abolitionist, David Ruggles at 36 Lispenard Street, in a neighborhood now known as Tribeca. Ruggles’ abode was not only the site of a publishing house for abolitionist pamphlets and newspapers, but also served as a key stop in what is known as the Underground Railroad for helping escaped slaves to safety.

Although not explicitly stated in Douglass’ memoirs, it seems likely that living in such close proximity to a publishing house must have encouraged him to write even more. According to his autobiography, he was eventually inspired by William Lloyd Garrison’s The Liberator, to create and publish his newspaper The North Star, which is now seen as one of the most influential anti-slavery newspapers of its kind.

The events in Ruggles’ home helped contribute to the emancipation of four million slaves, and on February 14, 2007 the location was declared a landmark by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Committee. In a statement released at the time the vice president of the New-York Historical Society, Linda Ferber, wrote:

“We salute the Landmarks Preservation Commission in furthering the public’s knowledge of the important role Frederick Douglass and his compatriots played in securing freedom for us all.”


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