Tag: Paterson NJ Cultural sites

The Paterson Museum                                             2 Market Street                                            Paterson, NJ 07501

The Paterson Museum 2 Market Street Paterson, NJ 07501

The Paterson Museum

2 Market Street

Paterson, NJ  07501

(973) 321-1260

Open: Monday-Friday 10:00am-4:00pm/Sunday-Sunday 12:30pm-4:30pm

Fee: Free




My review on TripAdvisor:


The Paterson Museum is an interesting museum of the history of the City of Paterson, NJ. The museum is broken into different sections of the City’s history. The museum discusses from the time that the Lenape Indians lived in the area to the rise of colonization and then to how it developed into the Silk City  through city planning and placement. The museum covers the history of the City of Paterson in the industrial Age as well with the rise of the Silk Industry, the Wright Airplane Factory, the Colt Revolver and the growth of the hospital industry in the City.

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Paterson Fire Department

Take time to look at the live displays of minerals, Native American artifacts, old fire department equipment and the life and times of its native son, Lou Costello.

The nice part of this museum is that the parking is free, it can be toured in about two to three hours and it is walking distance to the Paterson Falls and to Little Peru restaurants. It is also free.

The Introduction:

The Paterson Museum offers a ‘History within History’ experience. Located inside the former erecting shop if the Rogers Locomotive & Machine Works, the museum, presents a glimpse of the rich history and the many factors that gave rise to Paterson, New Jersey: “America’s First Planned Industrial City.”

From the natural wonders and the first inhabitants of the land that lay below and above the ground to the vital role Paterson played in setting of our nation’s industrial course. Through the museum’s exhibits. you’ll find out why Paterson was known for more than a century as the “Silk City.” You’ll discover that Paterson was at the forefront of locomotive, submarine and airplane engine development. And that’s just the beginning of our story. By the time you finish your visit, you will want to learn more about this city that surrounds the Great Falls.

The Exhibitions:

Paterson Residents: There are exhibitions on such celebrity natives as Lou Costello and his life after living in Paterson are shown in detail. Baseball players, football players and actors have shown against all odds and color barriers they found success in the world with Paterson being their roots.

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The Silk Industry

Silk City: The history of Paterson as ‘Silk City’ features winders, warpers and power-looms that produced beautiful fabrics. How the Falls and the location of the City of Paterson played its part in the garment industry at the turn of the last century. Not just in the silk industry but also in other companies like the Wright Aeronautical Corporation and the their time as a manufacturer in Paterson.

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The Paterson Fire Department

The Paterson Fire and Police Departments: The history and development of both the Paterson Police and Fire Departments are told through pictures, stories, uniforms and equipment through the ages. There are many turn of the last century fire trucks in the museum.

World War Exhibition: The museum has a wonderful exhibition on the history of Paterson and the role it played in the World Wars. There are all sorts of uniforms, munitions and stories to tell.

Geographical: There is a whole side exhibition of gems and minerals both native and from all over the country at the museum and a full display of native New Jersey stone formations. There is also a discussion of how the Falls played such an important role inf the development not just of the City of Paterson but of New Jersey as well.

Alexander Hamilton Exhibit: The history and life of Alexander Hamilton is told from the time he was born in the Caribbean to his coming to the United States, his marriage and his rise through the ranks of the government. There is how he helped develop the banking industry and paying of the government debts to his fall from grace and his eventual fatal duel with Aaron Burr.

Lenape Indian Culture: The Lenape Native American culture is shown how the tribes developed, lived, worked and hunted and gathered to create the society that was in place before colonization. There are all sorts of tools, displays on their regions of living, language, housing (there is a recreation of a Tee Pee here), that native wardrobe and a complete display of tools and arrow heads. It is a very detailed account of life as a Lenape Indian.

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Lenape Exhibition at the Paterson Art Museum

The museum shows the history not just of Paterson but of the surrounding areas and how growth of the City of Paterson made an impact on the region.

Paterson Great Falls-National Historical Park            72 McBride Avenue                                     Paterson, NJ 07501

Paterson Great Falls-National Historical Park 72 McBride Avenue Paterson, NJ 07501

Paterson Great Fall-National Historical Park /U.S. Department of the Interior

72 McBride Avenue

Paterson, NJ  07501




Open: Sunday-Saturday 6:00am-8:30pm

Fee: Free

TripAdvisor Review:


A trip to Paterson, NJ to see the Great Falls is an experience. Surrounded by the old mill buildings that once powered the Silk Industry that made Paterson world renowned, the Falls has been turned into a part of the National Park Service. The renovation has now been completed that includes new landscaping and a large parking lot. The surrounding park is as impressive as the Falls.

Paterson Falls VI

When walking the park, it is breathtaking to see how the Passaic River approaches the drop and then the water hitting the bottom of the cliffs. It is an impressive site of the how the Ice Age still plays a role in ‘Mother Nature’ in current times. Take time to walk through the park and travel over the bridges and through the landscaped parks to see the Falls through all angles. It is a spectacular park that does not get the credit it deserves. Paterson, NJ still has its issues but it does have a lot of gems too.

History of the Falls-The Formation and early history:

Geologically, the falls were formed at the end of the last Ice Age approximately 13,000 years ago. Formerly the Passaic River had followed a shorter course through the Watchung Mountains near present-day Summit. As the glacier receded, the river’s previous course was blocked by a newly formed moraine. A large lake, called Glacial Lake Passaic, formed behind the Watchungs.

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As the ice receded, the river found a new circuitous route around the north end of the Watchungs, carving the spectacular falls through the underlying basalt, which was formed approximately 200 millions years ago. The Falls later became the site of a habitation for Lenape Native Americans, who called this homeland, ‘Acquackanonk’ and later for Dutch settlers in the 1690’s (Wiki).

History of Powering a Free Economy:

The Great Fall of the Passaic River drove the imagination of a young Alexander Hamilton to harness the power of water to manufacturer goods in the United States. The story of Paterson and the Great Falls is on of national importance. Here in 1792, Hamilton founded America’s first planned city of industry and innovation, helping to spur what would become the world’s largest and most productive economy (US Parks.org).

After the Revolutionary War, Hamilton, the first Secretary of the Treasury, knew this country needed to be economically independent. He led the founding of Paterson and the Society for Establishing Useful Manufacturers (S.U.M.), New Jersey’s first corporation. The S.U.M. constructed America’s first multitiered waterpower system to attract entrepreneurs and workers who would manufacture goods and develop new inventions. A system of water channels or raceways, the most significant power system of the day, diverted water from the Passaic River above the falls to mills along its route (US Parks.org).

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The old Power Plant at the Paterson Falls

Paterson became the manufacturing hub for locomotives, textiles, silk finishing and dyeing, machines tools, paper, sailcloth, twine and airplane engines. By the mid-1800’s, the city was home to the largest producers of locomotives in this country and nearly half of the nation’s silk trade, earning Paterson the nickname “Silk City”. Paterson is also the birthplace of the Colt Revolver and the prototype for the first operable submarine (US Parks.org).

The S.U.M. fulfilled the vision of its founder for more than 150 years, moving the United States from an agrarian, slave-based economy to one based in industry and freedom. Paterson attracted successive waves of immigrant entrepreneurs, skilled craftsmen and workers, the ‘diversity of talents’ Hamilton had hoped would be drawn to America. Immigrants still settle here to pursue their ‘American Dream’ and to weave their threads into the storied fabric of Silk City (US Parks.org).

Visiting Paterson Great Falls:

Welcome to America’s first planned city of industry and innovation. Begin your visit at Overlook Park. View the iconic Great Falls and a monument to Paterson’s founder, Alexander Hamilton. Cross McBride Avenue to the Welcome Center where you can visit the facilities, purchase a gift and learn about tours and programs.

Paterson Great Falls

The beauty of the Falls

To get a close look at the river that powered Paterson to prominence, follow the path behind the hydroelectric plant over the Passaic footbridge to Mary Ellen Kramer Park. From there you can peek into Hinchliffe Stadium, one of the few remaining stadiums that hosted Negro League Baseball. Come back across the river, follow the short loop trail along Upper Raceway Park, ending at the Ivanhoe Wheelhouse. Walk across Spruce Street and visit the Paterson Museum, a park partner.

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Exhibits include textile machinery, the first Colt firearms, steam locomotives and the first prototype of a submarine.

Regularly scheduled guided tours of the park are available during the summer season. From fall through late spring, reservations are required for all guided tours. You may also download a self-guided tour or smartphone app from our partner, the Hamilton Partnership at http://www.millmile.org.

Accessibility:  We strive to make our facilities services and programs accessible to all. For information go to a visitor center, ask a ranger, call or check our website.

Firearms: For firearms regulations, check the park website.

More information:

Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park

72 McBride Avenue

Paterson, NJ  07501


To learn more about the national parks, visit http://www.nps.gov.

Disclaimer: This information was taken from the National Parks Foundation pamphlet and I give the parks system full credit for the information. Please check out their blogs and website on the falls for more information on visiting the park. The parking lot is currently going through a renovation so call in advance of visiting the falls.