"Paterson has a definite history associated with the beginnings of the United States. It has besides a central feature, the Passaic Falls which as I began to think about it became more and more the lucky burden of what I wanted to say. I began to read all I could about the history of the Falls, the park on the little hill behind it and the early inhabitants. From the beginning I decided there would be four books following the course of the river whose life seemed more and more to resemble my own life as I more and more thought about it: the river above the Falls, the catastrophe of the Falls itself, the river below the Falls and the entrance at the end into the great sea."
- William Carlos Williams, Paterson