The 2018 New Jersey History
and Historic Preservation Conference
America’s 397th national park is also one of its newest. Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park was established in 2009 to protect and interpret the innovative waterpower system and natural features of the Paterson Great Falls on the Passaic River, which powered America’s first planned industrial city. In 1778, Alexander Hamilton visited the falls and was impressed by its potential for industry. Later when Hamilton was the nation’s Secretary of the Treasury, he selected the site for industrial city, which he called a “national manufactory.” In 1791, Hamilton helped found the Society for the Establishment of Useful Manufactures (S.U.M.), state-chartered private corporation to fulfill this vision. The town of Paterson was founded by the society and named after New Jersey governor, William Paterson, in appreciation of his efforts to promote the society. The city grew to be a major industrial center, where Colt weapons, railroad locomotives, and textiles, most notably silk, were produced. The famous Silk Strike of 1913 drew major labor leaders to Paterson and contributed to changes in labor law and practices.