Making Headlines

The Future of Paterson’s Past: What Can a National Park Do?

Flyer ImageThe evolving Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park connects the city of the present with the city of the past. The Great Falls themselves couple Paterson to distant geological time, to its political and economic origins, and to adjacent raceways and factories. America's newest national park will preserve and interpret artifacts from the City's historic past, beginning in the late 1700s as an industrial dynamo to the present day as a manufacturing and labor center.

Beyond preserving, revealing, and interpreting the past, however, the evolving Paterson National Park represents an opportunity to affect the future, to provide a focal point for the City circled by the curve of the Passaic River below and Garret Mountain above. This discussion with two principal actors in the unfolding story of the Park— Leonard Zax and Bill Bolger—explores the question “What Can a National Park Do?” What are the unique challenges and promises of this Park? How does it compare to other Parks and how does it differ in possibilities? What does recognition of a “National Park” mean? Who will benefit, and how?

Most importantly, this conversation will not only celebrate the contribution of people from diverse backgrounds and talents, of high social status and low, who forged the history of the City, but will engage the question of how people can help to shape the future of the City.

This free event is open to the public and will take place on Sunday, October 31, 2010, from 2:00 to 4:00pm at the William Paterson University's David and Lorraine Cheng Library Auditorium.

For more information, please visit, call 973.720.2113 or download the flyer.

Star-Ledger Editorial: Great Falls in Paterson

We applauded the designation earlier this year of Paterson's Great Falls as a National Historical Park, and now we're glad to see Congress following through with funding.
Legislation on its way to President Obama includes $500,000 to develop a management plan for the park -- in effect, to start planning the future of the past.

Great Falls Looks to Future of National Park

He's crossed over the Great Falls on a tightrope with the Flying Wallendas and talked a man off a ledge above the water, but Rep. Bill Pascrell's proudest public feat is the naming of Paterson's Great Falls Historical District as America's newest national park.

Paterson is the Talk of the Town in, Yes, The New Yorker

The New Yorker Talk of the Town story about Leonard A. Zax's quest to create a national park around the waterfalls in Paterson, New Jersey.

In New Jersey, History Speaks to the Present

History is told in many strange ways, and often it isn't told at all. But for a reminder of how much politics, strategy and salesmanship can go into the telling, consider the scene on Monday when President Obama signed legislation establishing a national park in, of all places, Paterson, N.J., a faded industrial town that is one of the poorest in the nation.

The Great Falls: Power for Another Revolution

More than 200 years ago, during the Revolutionary War, Alexander Hamilton was traveling with Gen. George Washington when the men stopped with their entourage to have a meal in front of a magnificent waterfall. As they ate and drank, the precocious 23-year-old Hamilton saw in the power of the falls an engine of post-Colonial development for the nascent nation.

George Washington Returns to the Great Falls

George Washington signature

In 2010, the Paterson Museum displayed  an important letter George Washington wrote from the Great Falls. The original letter General Washington penned in 1780 during a difficult time in the war. To celebrate Washington's Birthday on February 22, Paterson High School students viewed the letter and heard comments from Congressman Bill Pascrell, Paterson Schools Superindent Donnie Evans, and Hamilton Partnership President Leonard Zax.

For the first time in 230 years, George Washington returned to the Great Falls, where he once had his Headquarters during the Revolutionary War.  In the letter that was recently displayed at Mount Vernon, General Washington complained that his troops did not have the manufactured supplies they needed to win the war. "We have no cloathing," he wrote with the spelling of the time, and he called for “an entire new plan" and "oeconomy."  

This letter takes on special significance now that President Obama has signed legislation to create the Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park. During Washington’s first term as President, Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton prepared a plan to end America’s dependence on foreign nations for manufactured goods. Hamilton founded the City of Paterson to use the power of the Great Falls for new industries that would secure America's economic independence. Over the next 150 years, Paterson produced the first manufactured sailcloth for every ship in the American navy, the first Colt revolvers, the first American locomotives, the first motorized submarines, and more aircraft engines for WWII bombers than any city in the nation.

Read coverage of the event:

An Even Greener Hydropower Plant at the Great Falls

With new Federal funding, the 1914 hydropower plant at the Great Falls is going to increase its renewable energy output, which currently produces enough power for 11,000 homes. More details in this news report at the Great Falls with Sen. Bob Menendez. Watch the news report.

Great Falls Youth Corps Begins

Paterson Urban Youth CorpsThe National Park Service has launched the Great Falls Youth Corps in Paterson. After educational training this spring, you will see them—most between the ages of 16 and 19—around the Great Falls Historic District working full-time this summer. They will help guide visitors of all ages to America's new national park. Details in this article.

Paintings of Paterson: Exhibition in Florida

Bluemner's America Post Card PromoA new exhibit, Oscar Blumener's America: Picturing Paterson, New Jersey, featuring selections of artwork from the Vera Blumner Kouba collection, runs through April 29, 2011, at the Homer and Dolly Hand Art Center, Stetson University, 139 E. Michigan Avenue, DeLand, Florida. Regular hours are: Mon-Fri 11:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. The galleries are closed on the weekends, and on all national and university holidays.

On February 23 at 7 p.m. there will be a curator talk by Dr. Roberta Smith Favis in Room 25 of the Instructional Media Center. Further information is available by calling Hand Art Center 386-822-7270 or Stetson Art Department 386-822-7266 or by e-mail to

Paterson's Great Falls and historic factories have inspired great artists since the 18th century. At the same time that recent books and exhibitions are providing fresh insights on Hamilton and Paterson, museum and gallery shows are calling attention to the outstanding Paterson paintings by one of America's most important twentieth-century artists, Oscar Bluemner. A major show at the Whitney Museum of Art in New York in 2006 featured many Paterson paintings and sketches by this great American modernist. The show included his magnificent painting Expression of a Silktown, New Jersey (Paterson Centre) that is in the collection of the New Jersey State Museum. The New York Times, the New Yorker, and leading American art journals have featured Bluemner's large colorful paintings and powerful charcoal drawings of Paterson silk mills, other factories, and the vibrating river waters below the Great Falls.

Another extraordinary Bluemner Paterson painting in the Stetson collection, Jersey Silkmills, appeared on the cover of the Smithsonian American Art Museum journal, American Art. Studies for this striking painting of glowing red Paterson silk mills are in the Oscar Bluemner papers in the Smithsonian Institution Archives of American Art.