Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park on the Passaic River in Paterson, New Jersey is America’s newest national park. It features the second-most-powerful waterfall east of the Mississippi at the spot where Alexander Hamilton founded the country’s first planned industrial city.
According to the U.S. Geological Society, “the potential power of the Great Falls of the Passaic River so inspired Alexander Hamilton that he organized the Society for Establishing Useful Manufactures. Pierre L’Enfant, the planner of Washington, D.C., designed a complex three-tired system that harnessed the falls and supplied water power to several mills. The city of Paterson became a thriving industrial center known for the manufacture of silk and locomotive parts. Today, the old industrial complete has been partially restored.”
The creation of the new national park not only honors and preserves Paterson’s past but should also brighten its future. One federal agency has ranked Paterson as the most economically distressed city in the United States.
The park covers 35 acres, 15 miles west of New York City. The adjacent area is home to the largest and best example of early manufacturing mills in the United States with 18th, 19th, and 20th-century waterpower remnants. The 77-foot-tall falls engineered raceways and mills to form a complex that is unique in the United States.
Usta work in Paterson in the early 70s. We would eat our lunch at the Falls in nice weather. We would walk across a foot bridge with a water pipe under it that stretched almost over the mouth of the Falls. In the winter, spray from the Falls would freeze and cover the bridge and nearby rocks, creating a winter wonderland. Wish I could find the pictures I took then.