Marking Time highlights one of the more than 2,500 markers that have been installed throughout the state since 1914 as part of the Pennsylvania Historical Marker Program, operated by PHMC's State Historic Preservation Office.

Because of its proximity to the Mason-Dixon Line, Pennsylvania was a major crossroads of the Underground Railroad. Although much has been written about people, sites, and events associated with the Underground Railroad in Philadelphia, little had been researched on the capital city’s role until recently. In April 2000, as part of the annual Conference on Black History in Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC) dedicated a marker on Walnut Street, near Fourth, in Harrisburg, which commemorates the Underground Railroad. The marker is located just south of the State Capitol.

Tanner’s Alley (shown on some early maps as Tanners Lane) was once home to Harrisburg’s African American community. During the 1850s, escaping slaves hid in the neighborhood in the houses of Joseph Bustill and William Jones, conductors on the Underground Railroad. In a surviving letter, written on March 24, 1856, by Bustill to Jones, then in Philadelphia, he described his work as a conductor. “I suppose,” Bustill wrote, “ere this you have seen those five large and three small packages, I sent by way of Reading, consisting of three men and women and children. They arrived here at 8 o’clock and left twenty minutes past three.” One block from Bustill’s house on Tanner’s Alley, at Cranberry Street, was Wesleyan Union African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church where abolitionists William Lloyd Garrison and Frederick Douglass spoke in 1847. The neighborhood was razed about 1913 to make way for the construction of state government buildings. The PHMC’s state historical marker documents not only the Underground Railroad, but also a lost African American neighborhood.