New Jersey - Paterson - Great Falls

Great Falls, Paterson, NJ

Paterson was once the industrial capital of the nation. It's still known as the Silk City, and spun out quite a few other products as well. As the Industrial Revolution gave way to the Technological Revolution, Paterson, like so many other industrial cities, went from boom to bust in no time. Despite the recent successes of other former shining stars like Jersey City and Newark, Paterson is having problems getting jump started. This page shows you the best nucleus the city has to grow from.

The World War Memorial, on the southwest corner of McBride Ave. and Wayne Ave.; Wayne Ave. (Passaic CR 666, unposted for good reason) is the last crossing of the river prior to the small artificial falls and much larger natural ones. This area has been barricaded off from the public, for good reason.

Walking along the Upper Raceway. The Upper, Middle, and Lower Raceways are all the same watercourse. It starts out at the Passaic River, drops 22 feet between raceways, then 22 feet one last time into the river again (but past the Great Falls). Each 22-foot drop at one time powered a different mill, part of why Paterson was able to boom in the first place. Now it's just a trickle, but I'm sure it was a raging torrent when first constructed. Among all the brick buildings lining the raceway (there are many, the Falls area being the hub of industry), some have been restored, others are being restored, and a few have yet to be saved. At least none of them are falling down yet, like later warehouses and factories built in other cities.

Looking south along Spruce St. from Market St. at one of the restored buildings, even with a restored ad (don't try phoning Sherwood 1364, it won't connect anymore), then north at the less-restored but more-functional Union Works building.

Clearly, the Wayne Ave. bridge was constructed in 1932, between the World War Memorial on the east side of the river and this plaque along Front St. on the west side opposite it. It's possible that an earlier bridge spanned between the two monuments, as both sites look like bridge abutments.

As early as 1878, the Passaic River was apparently being tapped for the public water supply. I hope very deeply that this wasn't for drinking water. By the way, I'm now inside Great Falls Park.

Looking north from McBride Ave. at the Society for Establishing Useful Manufactures (so why isn't it S.E.U.M.?), which had a choice spot against the cliffs at the bottom of the falls. The area in front of the building is set to become an amphitheater.

A sidelong look at the old S.U.M. building, then turning around (facing toward the brick factories) to read the old Passaic Falls sign. Alexander Hamilton gets the credit for envisioning the power of using the environment to advance industry. That wouldn't fly in the 21st century.

Looking west at and getting progressively closer to the falls, until in the third photo I'm on the footbridge staring at an old abutment for something. My guess is that it was related to the Passaic Water Company (that building is off to the right of this photo).

Panning to the right from the abutment, there's a mysterious cave underneath the falls. This manmade tunnel has an iron beam in front of it. It smacks of industry, though I'm not sure exactly what it ever did or how anyone would get inside. (It must connect to the basement of one of the historic buildings in Great Falls Park.)

Putting the down in downstream, looking east (away from the falls) at the river below the beautifully designed steel arch that only carries a pipe. I'd say pedestrians would be better off on the nicer bridge, but really, isn't it better to be able to see it?

Now you see the rainbow, now you don't. It was gone just after I took the first photo, but I took a second one to make sure.

Continuing around to the west side of the park, keeping my camera on the falls, with one parting shot as the water leaves me for its rough-and-tumble journey toward the high seas.

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