Great Falls in Paterson Now A National Historic Park

Great Falls
Great Falls of the Passaic River
by Ronkowitz

On January 15, 2009, the Senate approved legislation authored by Senators Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ), Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-08) to designate the Great Falls in Paterson, New Jersey a National Historic Park.

“The Great Falls in Paterson is a landmark that deserves recognition as a national historic park. Giving the Great Falls this designation would go a long way toward recognizing the beauty and history of the site and helping preserve it for future generations,” Sen. Lautenberg said.

Sen. Menendez said, “The Great Falls Park is a Garden State jewel -- it has one of the most impressive and picturesque falls in the country and also represents Alexander Hamilton’s unique vision of America come true. No other site in the nation more richly represents the remarkable transformation of our rural agrarian society based in slavery into a modern global economy based in freedom. We want to make sure these natural and historic resources are preserved for generations to come.”

“As a lifelong Paterson resident, I am proud that the Senate approved a national park at the Great Falls among its first acts in this new legislative session. The creation of a national park in Paterson would signal an important return of resources to the urban areas that have been shortchanged for the past eight years. I applaud my Senate colleagues and am eager to move this legislation through the House of Representatives as early as possible,” stated Pascrell.

The Senate approved the bill overwhelmingly, by a vote of 73 to 21. The companion bill, sponsored by Rep. Pascrell, is awaiting action in the House of Representatives.

The measure would designate the Great Falls in Paterson as a National Historic Park, which would enable the park to receive federal funding. The Great Falls is the second-highest waterfall in the eastern United States.

Located only fifteen miles west of New York City, the Great Falls was the second largest waterfall in colonial America. At the Great Falls, Alexander Hamilton conceived and implemented a plan to harness the force of water to power the new industries that would secure our economic independence. Hamilton told Congress and the American people that at the Great Falls he would begin implementation of his ambitious strategy to transform a rural agrarian society dependent upon slavery into a modern economy based on freedom. True to Hamilton's vision, Paterson became a great manufacturing city, producing the Colt revolver, the first submarine, the aircraft engine for the first trans-Atlantic flight, more locomotives than any city in the nation, and more silk than any city in the world.

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