January 12, 2012

The Great Falls

Not far from our Writing Center at Passaic County Community College is Paterson's Great Falls which have recently become America's 397th national park. The National Park designation makes the 35-acre site eligible for federal funds.

The 77-foot waterfall in downtown Paterson is second only to Niagara Falls in terms of water volume east of the Mississippi River.

Alexander Hamilton (lieutenant colonel in the American Revolution, confidant to George Washington, delegate to the Constitutional Convention, and first Secretary of the Treasury) formed in 1792 an investment group called the Society of Useful Manufactures (the “SUM”) whose funds would be used to develop a planned industrial city that was later to be known as Paterson.

Hamilton believed that the United States needed to reduce its dependence on foreign goods and should instead develop its own industries. The industries developed in Paterson were powered by the 77-foot high Great Falls of the Passaic, and a system of water raceways that harnessed the power of the falls. The district originally included dozens of mill buildings and other manufacturing structures associated with the textile industry and later, the firearms, silk, and railroad locomotive manufacturing industries. In the latter half of the 1800’s, silk production became the dominant industry and formed the basis of Paterson’s most prosperous period, earning it the nickname “Silk City.”

 Take a look at the Great Falls from a webcam view via EarthCam and the City of Paterson.

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