Paterson enjoys a unique and distinguished history as America’s first planned industrial city. It owes its existence to the far-reaching vision of Alexander Hamilton, one of America’s most important founders and visionaries of our governmental and financial institutions. Hamilton envisioned Paterson, with its waterpower provided by the Great Falls of the Passaic River, as America’s counterpart and response to the industrial revolution occurring in England during the same period, when America was a fledgling nation. Industries that took off included cotton fabrics, railroad locomotives, textile machinery, jute, and silk spinning, weaving, and dyeing, among many others.

The Great Falls Historic Landmark District was established in 1976 to protect and recognize these industrial origins and development of the city in the area immediately around the Great Falls.  In the decades that followed, through the ongoing efforts and foresight to preserve the district for future generations, in 2009 the area was formally authorized by Congress and President Obama as the Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park (GFNP).

Since then, many partnerships have made it possible for the steady stream of public investments and collaborations that have resulted in tens of millions of public dollars available for environmental cleanup and park improvements on several areas around the falls. By the end of 2023, a new visitor’s center, parking deck and a unique, 7,000-seat historic stadium will be completed as additional amenities where activities and food services will be available.

Aside from its deep-rooted cultural legacy, the Great Falls is also a tremendously beautiful natural place that has attracted people for recreational, spiritual and enjoyment purposes for thousands of years, and still does. It is a unique geological place as well and enjoys the status of a National Natural Landmark designation.

Great Public Space

2021 Designee