Great Falls Historic District Cultural Center

Great Falls Historic District Cultural Center
A Division of The Paterson Museum
Great Falls Historic District Cultural Center
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 Acquackanonk, the homeland of the Lenni Lenape Indians, to view the breathtaking beauty of the Great 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 Establishing Usefull Manufactures (S.U.M) was incorporated.
Great Falls Historic District 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 shifting gears of industry to more sophisticated technology.
Some Paterson firsts: water powered cotton spinning mill in New Jersey (1793), continuous roll paper (1812), Colt revolver (1836), 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.

Great Falls Historic District Cultural Center

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. Former Governor James McGreevy visited the waterfall and announced the adoption of the Great Falls as a new New Jersey Urban State Park on October 21, 2004. On March 30, 2009 President Barack Obama signed the Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park Act as part of the Omnibus Public Lands Act.
We invite you to step into the history of Paterson and explore the developments that shaped our nation
and to enjoy the beauty and wonder of the Great Falls.  

Brochure Spanish 
Distrito Histórico Nacional Destacado de "Great Falls" 
(Cataratas Grandes) (PDF)

March 2011 brought a rise in water levels of the Passaic River resulting in a spectacular Great Falls. However, the rise in water levels also created much flooding throughout the Passaic River water shed, damaging property and displacing residents in areas within the City of Paterson as well as several other municipalities. Below are photographs taken between March 12th and soon after the Passaic River "crested" at the Great Falls early Sunday morning on March 13th.  
Great Falls
Great Falls
Great Falls

The Great Falls and its surrounding park areas are dog-friendly. Dogs must be well-behaved, be leashed, and owner must clean-up after their dogs at all times.
 Great Falls
After heavy rains the Great Falls thunders over the cliffs with magnificent rainbows.
March 2010
  • News &
  • Related
  • Services
Subscribe to this feed

Contact Us

City of Paterson, NJ

65 McBride Ave Ext
Paterson, NJ 07505
Get Directions

  • Phone: (973) 279-9587
  • Fax: (973) 279-0587
  • Staff Directory
  • Office Hours:
    Monday-Friday 9AM-5PM Seasonal Weekend Hours: Saturday/Sunday 12:30-4:30PM

More Information