Great Falls Paterson, the newest National Park

Paterson Travel Blog

 › entry 755 of 1090 › view all entries
Great Falls

Paterson is the third largest city of New Jersey, and this city is located almost next to Manhattan. It is less than half an hour drive. Paterson has an industrial past of cotton and silk producing history. Its nickname is therefore "Silk City".

Right inside this city, Paterson has a very unique natural phenomenon: Great Falls of the Passaic River. Great Falls were created 13.000 years after the ice age, when the Passaic River was forced to change course. At Great Falls the Passaic River plunges 23 meters (77 ft) into a crevice that exists between the basalt rocks the river flows over.

The Falls are the reason why Paterson came to life. Initially the Indian Lenape Tribe settled near the falls.

Two views on the same! Top is how Thomas Pownall saw the falls in 1750, bottom is how I saw then more than 260 years later
Later, in the 1690s the Dutch settlers lived here. In 1778 Alexander Hamilton visited the falls and envisioned they could serve as a power source. In 1791 he established the Society for Establishing Useful Manufactures (SUM), and this SUM founded the town of Paterson. Several industries were opened, they all used the power of the waterfalls and the river. Amongst the silk industries there also a Locomotive factory and even the famous Colt revolvers were manufactured using the falls' power.

After the 1945s the industry declined leaving the Falls behind, as a natural landmark. An old hydropower plant was modernized and is nowadays still used for the city. A water pipe was constructed to bring water from before the falls into the city. The bridge for this pipe also served pedestrians.

Great Falls National Historic Park
In 1981 another pipe was added blocking the pedestrian path, so a second bridge was constructed.

After being a city and state park plans arised to turn the falls and their former industrial surroundings into a National Park. In March 2009 President Obama signed the proposal into law, and after some more funding and arrangements the site was finally accepted on the 7th of November as the 397th national Park: Paterson Great Falls National Historic Park!

The falls had on my wish list for a long time. Since it was amazing weather, temperatures were back near 21° C (70 F) and it was sunny, I decided that today would be that moment. I was pleasantly surprised by the grandeur of the falls. By far no Niagara Falls, but extremely impressive! The sunlight dispersed by the intensive mist of the falls created a huge rainbow. Very nice, and so close to New York City!

More pictures and several movies below!

Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!
Great Falls
Great Falls
Two views on the same! Top is how …
Two views on the same! Top is how…
Great Falls National Historic Park
Alexander Hamiltons statue is sti…
Alexander Hamilton's statue is st…
The ruins of the factories that on…
The ruins of the factories that o…
The only thing that evidences that…
The only thing that evidences tha…
Two views on the same!This time le…
Two views on the same!This time l…
Water flows over an old dam on its…
Water flows over an old dam on it…
Just after the falls
Just after the falls
The new bridge over the fall, and …
The new bridge over the fall, and…
The falls
The falls
Great Falls
Great Falls
Great Falls
Great Falls
Great Falls
Great Falls
Great Falls
Great Falls
Great Falls
Great Falls
Great Falls
Great Falls
Great Falls
Great Falls
Great Falls in 1907. Note there is…
Great Falls in 1907. Note there i…
Great Falls in the 1750s, as seen …
Great Falls in the 1750s, as seen…
Great Falls National Historic Park
Great Falls National Historic Park
Paterson
photo by: mdalamers