Paterson Great Falls
On the first day of the 111th Congress, Congressman Bill Pascrell introduced the Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park Act of 2009, HR 280. This bipartisan legislation was cosponsored by every Member of the New Jersey Congressional delegation and designates a National Historical Park at the Great Falls in Paterson, New Jersey. The language from the bill was incorporated into the larger Omnibus Public Lands Management Act of 2009, HR 146, which was signed into law by President Obama in March of 2009. Upon the completion of land use agreements between the State, City and Federal Government, the Great Falls officially became a part of the United States' National Park System. The passage of this legislation is the realization of a dream that Bill has had since first becoming a Member of Congress in 1997.
Fifteen miles west of New York City, the Great Falls was the second largest waterfall in colonial America. No other natural wonder in America has played such an important role in our nation's historic quest for freedom and prosperity. At the Great Falls, Alexander Hamilton conceived and implemented a plan to harness the force of water to power the new industries that would secure our economic independence.
Alexander Hamilton told Congress and the American people that at the Great Falls he would begin implementation of his ambitious strategy to transform a rural agrarian society dependent upon slavery into a modern economy based on freedom. True to Hamilton's vision, Paterson became a great manufacturing city, producing the Colt revolver, the first submarine, the aircraft engine for the first trans-Atlantic flight, more locomotives than any city in the nation, and more silk than any city in the world.
New Jersey's Great Falls is the only National Historic District that includes both a National Natural Resource and a National Historic Landmark. In a special Bicentennial speech in Paterson with the spectacular natural beauty of the Great Falls in the background, the late President Gerald R. Ford said, "We can see the Great Falls as a symbol of the industrial might which helps to make America the most powerful nation in the world."
Scholars have concluded that Pierre L'Enfant's innovative water power system in Paterson, and many factories built later, constitute the finest remaining collection of engineering and architectural structures representing each stage of America's progress from a weak agrarian society to a leader in the global economy.
The story of Hamilton and American industry is not just a story of the State of New Jersey; it is the story of our nation. As such, Congress and President have seen the need to preserve and protect the Great Falls National Historic District and properly present it to the by brining a National Park Service unit to Paterson.