History & Culture

A half-moon black ornamental fence facing left with the letters "S.U.M." in ornate filigree. Facing left, it frames a view of the Passaic River & the upper edge of the Great Falls surrounded by trees



Historic Resource Study

The National Park Service, in cooperation with the Organization of American Historians, has released the long-anticipated Historic Resource Study (HRS) of Paterson Great Falls National Historical 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.

Explore the full Historic Resource Study and the Historic Resource Study Appendices



The history of the City of Paterson includes its beginning in 1792 as the ambitious project of Alexander Hamilton and the 1791 "Society for Establishing Usefull Manufacturers" (S.U.M.) 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, firearm manufacturing, textile machinery, jute and silk spinning, weaving, and dyeing, and brewing, among many others.

Explore the creation of a nation through Paterson's industries.



A core aspect of the Paterson experiment was the relationship between industry and labor. Patersonians were some of the first in the nation to engage in strike actions to fight for better hours, wages, and working conditions - from the 1835 children's "Baby Strike" through the Great 1913 Silk Strike to continued activism today, Patersonians helped create our modern relationship to work.

As such, Paterson is one of the sites included in the 2022 "Americans at Work" National Historic Landmark Theme Study on Labor History. Paterson Great Falls is also located approximately ten minutes by car from the American Labor Museum, itself a site directly associated with the 1913 strike in Paterson.



Paterson 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 - 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.

Explore the stories of the people of Paterson



When families immigrated to Paterson they brought with them their unique cultural identities. People came from all walks of life, and with their diverse backgrounds it only helped to grow Paterson's distinct personality.

Explore these important places in Paterson

Last updated: February 25, 2023

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

72 McBride Avenue Extension
Paterson, NJ 07501



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