Nature & Science


The sound of rushing water, the feel of the spray and the almost daily rainbows remind us, as it did Alexander Hamilton, that water is powerful. Water is not the only element with the power to change landscape – fire and ice have roles to play as well, and their work can be appreciated at the Great Falls. Imagine the falls without water, and what you find left is brown/black rocks. How did these rocks get here? That is quite literally a puzzle.

Learn about the geology of Paterson that created the features that eventually led to the establishment of the city.

Basalt cliffs of the Great Falls of the Passaic River
The gorge of the Great Falls showing the basalt cliffs

V. Scott - NPS PHOTO



The Great Falls of Paterson, the centerpiece of this park, became a National Natural Landmark in 1967. Their impressive power was the inspiration for Alexander Hamilton to establish the first planned industrial city in the United States here in 1792.

The National Natural Landmarks Program encourages and supports the conservation of sites that illustrate the nation's geological and biological history, and to strengthen the public's appreciation of America's natural heritage.

Learn more about the National Natural Landmarks Program.


Last updated: May 13, 2018

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72 McBride Avenue Extension
Paterson, NJ 07501


(973) 523-0370

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