Great Falls Historic District Cultural Center

Great Falls Historic Center Cultural Center
The Great Falls Historic District Cultural Center is open year-round and conveniently located directly across McBride Avenue from the Great Falls. Parking is available for both automobiles and buses. 
The park areas surrounding the Great Falls is dog-friendly. Well behaved dogs are welcome, must be leashed and cleaned up after. Dogs are not allowed in buildings.
     Operational hours are Monday  - Friday 8:30 AM - 4:30 PM and Seasonal Weekend Hours 12:30 - 4:30 PM. The Center may be closed when staff persons are out on tour with a group and is closed on holidays. We suggest you call to set up an appointment if you are planning to do research, view videos, or have a special information request. Information is also available by both email and real mail, or can be faxed to you.
     Paterson's roots reach deep into the historic growth of our nation. Long before the colonies united and declared their independence, travelers and visitors flocked to Acquackonounk, the homeland of the Lenni Lenape Indians, to view the breathtaking beauty of the Falls.
     But it was not until the emerging nation charted its course of independence that the power potential of these roaring falls was realized. Alexander Hamilton, the first Secretary of the Treasury, was convinced that industry would add wealth, independence and security to the blossoming nation. Hamilton chose the site of the Great Falls to propel his brainchild, a "national manufactory," America's first planned industrial city. In 1791 the Society for the Establishment of Useful Manufactures (S.U.M.) was incorporated.
Cultural Center
     During the next 200 years, Paterson has been witness to the unfolding of the American Industrial Saga, and a Golden Age more prosperous and varied than in other emerging manufacturing districts, as well as witness to the shifting gears of industry to more sophisticated technology.
     Some Paterson firsts: water-powered cotton spinning mill in NJ (1793), continuous roll paper (1812), Colt revolver (1837), the Roger's Locomotive (1837), and the Holland Submarine (1878).

     Rich in cultural diversity, Paterson has been and is a melting pot for those who sought refuge for various reasons, or drawn by the promise of work in its industry.  The machinery was set in motion to propel Paterson's Renaissance with President Ford's official designation of the 119 acre "Great Falls of the Passaic/S.U.M. Historic District" as a National Historic Landmark in 1976.

     We invite you to step into the history of Paterson and explore the developments that shaped our nation and enjoy the beauty and wonder of the Great Falls.
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