Black Heritage Destinations in Southern New Jersey

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Cape May

Prior to the Civil War, New Jersey became a major route for enslaved people escaping bondage in the American South. Some legendary Underground Railroad sites still remain throughout the state. One strategic location: Cape May, where its legacy can be witnessed today, hidden in plain sight amid the town’s Victorian splendor.

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Trace the journey to freedom at the Harriet Tubman Museum, and celebrate the extraordinary heroine who lived and worked here during the 1850s, to help fund her expeditions to free enslaved people. It’s situated at Lafayette Street and Franklin Street, once a hub of abolitionist activity. 

Discover two highlights on the National Park Service National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom: Cape May MAC’s two-hour Underground Railroad Trolley Tour and the Stephen Smith House, former home of the impressive Black businessman, philanthropist, clergyman and abolitionist (across from the Harriet Tubman Museum; open by private appointment only). 

Watch more incredible stories unfold on the Center for Community Arts' African American Heritage Walking Tour, offered in both guided and self-guided versions.

Atlantic City and Newtonville

Atlantic City isn’t just the East Coast seaside gaming and resort capital. It also offers  fascinating treasures and traditions of the Black community. 

Stroll around the Civil Rights Garden, among sculptures, winding pathways, plants, flowers, and Ginkgo trees, a beautiful homage to the history, events and people of the civil rights movement. 

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Relax on Chicken Bone Beach, once the segregated area where Black families gathered to enjoy the Jersey Shore from around 1900 until the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Although created due to enforced racial separation, today it is a symbol of unity and a welcoming place to walk, play and lounge.

Look for the commemorative sign on the beach side of the Boardwalk at its intersection with S. Missouri Avenue, across from Caesars and next to Playground Pier. If you can, catch a jazz concert staged by the Chicken Bone Beach Historical Foundation.

Also in Atlantic City, check out the intriguing African American Heritage Museum of Southern New Jersey inside the Noyes Arts Garage of Stockton University, as well as its nearby, second location in Newtonville, at the Dr. Martin Luther King Center. Both museum locations feature collections spanning generations of Black history, plus showings of rarely seen work by local artists.

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Black Heritage Destinations in Southern New Jersey (Map)
Chicken Bone Beach, Atlantic City
Chicken Bone Beach, Atlantic City
Kelsey's, Atlantic City
Kelsey's, Atlantic City