The People of Paterson

Oral History Project
Hear about Paterson from some of the people who have called Paterson "home" on our Oral History page!

Little Dublin
Read Volunteer Tim's white paper on this early 19th century Irish immigrant neighborhood in Paterson.

Image from Paterson Great Falls Flickr
Image from Paterson Great Falls Flickr
Alexander Hamilton came across the Great Falls of Paterson during the Revolutionary War when he accompanied Washington and Marquis de Lafayette to a picnic on the grounds in front of the waterfall. During the picnic on July 10, 1778, he recognized the natural potential of the falls for successful growth in manufacturing. As Secretary of Treasury, he chose the falls as the site to start implementing his plan to make America’s economy independent of England.

The Society for the Establishing of Useful Manufacturers (S.U.M) was established by Hamilton as New Jersey’s first corporation. S.U.M. was created with private funds raised by Hamilton and became a successful incubator for manufacturing startups for 150 years. This made Paterson the first planned industrial city in America.

All of Hamilton’s ideas were put into practice through the S.U.M. It functioned as a mechanism where Hamilton’s ideas of acquiring land, building factories, and developing an innovative system of power called the raceways systems. His ideas set the young nation in a path towards success.

He believed that a manufacturing-based economy would provide economic independence for the new nation and promoted immigration from foreign nations while creating a greater scope of diversity of talents. Paterson offered entrepreneurs opportunities unlike any other city with its social and economic mobility. This planned industrial city helped spark America’s Industrial Revolution and enabled many people to be a part of a growing economy.

Last updated: April 29, 2017

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72 McBride Avenue
Paterson, NJ 07501


(973) 523-0370

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