History & Culture

S.U.M. symbol
S.U.M. (Society for the Establishment of Useful Manufactures) symbol

Copyright Daniel C. Krebs


Historic Resource Study
Historic Resource Study Appendices

The National Park Service, in cooperation with the Organization of American Historians, has released the long-anticipated Historic Resource Study (HRS) of the park, “An Incorporation of the Adventurers”: A History of the Society for Establishing Useful Manufactures, Paterson “Silk City” and its People, and the Passaic Great Falls.

The purpose of the HRS is to provide a historical overview of a park or region and identify a park’s cultural resources within historic contexts. The study expands upon earlier analysis of park resources and provide essential information which will inform decisions about the preservation, management, and interpretation of historic and cultural resources at the park. This baseline study builds on thematic work accomplished to date, including themes and contexts addressed at the 2012 Scholars Roundtable and the environmental, economic, industrial, and social history associated with resources within the park boundary.


The history of the City of Paterson includes its beginnings as the ambitious project of Alexander Hamilton and the "Society for Establishing Usefull Manufacturers" (S.U.M.) in 1792 at the Great Falls, the early development of water power systems for industrial use, and the various types of manufacturing that occurred in the District's mills into the 20th Century. These included cotton fabrics, railroad locomotives, textile machinery, jute and silk spinning, weaving, and dyeing, among many others.


Paterson really came into fruition with the help of immigrants. The city's founder, Alexander Hamilton was an immigrant himself who made it his mission to live out his American dream. Paterson's culture and diversity comes from the many dedicated workers who helped build up the area.


When families had immigrated over to Paterson they brought with them their unique cultural identities from their countries of origin. People came from all walks of life, and with their diverse backgrounds it only helped to grow Paterson's distinct personality. Learn about the places these different cultures created in and around Paterson.


The Great Falls also represents compelling stories of the lives of immigrants who labored in the mills, those who owned and operated manufacturing concerns and became wealthy, and the quest of laborers and the labor movement for better working conditions and pay. Immigrants still settle today in Paterson to pursue their versions of Hamilton's vision, creating a diverse and vibrant culture.


Last updated: August 18, 2020

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