Paterson NJ

Paterson, New Jersey

Paterson became a locus for the early Industrial Revolution in the United States, harnessing the power of the 77 foot high Passaic Falls, or the Great Falls of the Passaic River. The textile, silk, Colt firearms, and railroad locomotive manufacturing industries thrived, and Paterson became known as "Silk City" for the power of its silk manufacturing industry.

In 1913, Paterson was the center of a five month strike by the Industrial Workers of the World, demanding anti-child labor legislation, safety in the workplace, a minimum wage, and reasonable working hours. The employers won, and workers were forced to go back to pre-strike conditions of low wages, long hours, and dangerous working conditions overlooked by the mansions of industrialists. During WWII Paterson was important in manufacture for the aircraft industry, but as the industrial revolution declined, so did the fortunes of the city. The world of Paterson, from the beginning of the 20th century through the 1950's, is the world William Carlos Williams saw from his practice in the neighboring town of Rutherford, and presented in his famous poem.

Today Paterson is home to a melting pot of multiple nationalities, from the original Italian, Dutch, Irish and German immigrants to Americans originating from the Carribean, Puerto Rico, Peru, Dominica, Turkey, Syria, Palestine, and Bangladesh. Once a major shopping area, the downtown with its Beaux Arts buildings is abandoned in part, as with many old downtown areas; however, it has been designated an Urban Enterprise Zone and efforts are being made to draw business to its center again. The Great Falls still rush by the city.

Still a home to artists, Paterson has featured not only in the poetry of William Carlos Williams but is the setting of many of Junot Diaz's short stories and novels, including his Pulitzer Prize-winning "The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao", and John Updike's 1997 novel "In the Beauty of the Lilies". Great Falls of the Passaic River were featured in the first seasons of "The Sopranos", and in 2016 the movie Paterson, directed and written by John Jarmuch, tells the tale of a bus driver and poet.

Jonathan Sinagub's beautiful images of the Great Falls and the town of Paterson are strewn throughout the website, so please browse some of our other pages.

Video Imagery of Paterson

To read more about Paterson, NJ, the resource is, of course,,_New_Jersey