December 2011

Paterson Great Falls Is America’s Newest National Park

Paterson Great FallsPaterson Great Falls

Paterson Great Falls
About two billion gallons of water from the Passaic River flow over the Great Falls every day.

People of Paterson, New Jersey, gathered on November 7, 2011, to watch a national park be dedicated in their city. U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and Paterson Mayor Jeffery Jones signed an agreement establishing Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park. During the park’s dedication ceremony, government officials spoke about the Great Falls’ history and natural beauty. Students held up handmade signs that expressed pride in their city and the falls. At 77 feet tall and 260 feet wide, the Great Falls are the second largest in the eastern United States.

Paterson Great Falls is now the 397th and newest national park in the United States. The 35-acre park includes an overlook of the falls, the Paterson Museum, and surrounding historical buildings. It is different from many other national parks because it is in the middle of a city. It is one of the nation’s first urban national parks. People hope that the new park will attract more visitors to the city and help the local economy grow.

Another important feature of Paterson Great Falls is a statue of Alexander Hamilton. Hamilton was one of America’s founders and the nation’s first secretary of the treasury. He was the first to imagine the falls being used to power new factories. He encouraged the building of a dam and water channels to harness the force of the falls. This excellent source of energy helped start the Industrial Revolution in the United States.

The Great Falls provided the power for the mills and factories in Paterson’s textile, silk, and locomotive industries. Over time, many immigrants settled in Paterson to work in industries that were powered by the falls. The Great Falls have also inspired many painters and writers, such as poet William Carlos Williams. The falls have become an important symbol of Paterson’s rich history.

Image credit: ©George Oze/Alamy Images

Related Link

Question 1
How many national parks are found in the United States?

Question 2
How is Paterson Great Falls different from many other national parks?

Question 3
Who was the first to imagine the Great Falls providing power to factories?

Rate this story:
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars