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HomeI-80 AttractionsPaterson Great Falls National Historical Park - Paterson, NJ

Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park – Paterson, NJ

Located in Paterson, New Jersey the Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park represents the city’s rich industrial past and its enduring commitment to preserving natural wonders. Spread across 52 acres, this national park is a captivating blend of history, culture, and scenic beauty.

A Glimpse into History

Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park | I-80 Exit Guide
Photo by: National Parks Conservation Association

Birth of an Industrial Powerhouse

The story of Paterson Great Falls begins in the late 18th century when Alexander Hamilton, one of our country’s founding fathers, envisioned a city that would harness the power of the Passaic River for industrial development. The result was Paterson, a burgeoning industrial hub named after William Paterson, another prominent figure in American history.

The Great Falls, a spectacular 77-foot high waterfall on the Passaic River, became the focal point of Paterson’s industrial might. The water’s immense force fueled a network of mills and factories, establishing Paterson as an industrial powerhouse during the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Rise and Fall of Industry

As you explore the park, remnants of this industrial era come to life. Historic buildings, raceways, and the iconic Mary Ellen Kramer Park offer a glimpse into the city’s manufacturing past. The Industrial Revolution left an indelible mark on Paterson, and the national park serves as a living museum, preserving the tangible history of this transformative period.

Immersed in Natural Beauty

The Majesty of Great Falls

While history is the heartbeat of Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park, the natural beauty that envelops the area is equally compelling. The Great Falls, a mesmerizing cascade of water, is a focal point that draws visitors seeking tranquility amidst an urban landscape. The park provides numerous vantage points for visitors to marvel at the falls, capturing the perfect photograph or simply enjoying the soothing sounds of rushing water.

Riverside Trails and Green Spaces

Beyond the falls, the park boasts well-maintained trails that wind along the river, offering a serene escape for nature enthusiasts. The lush greenery, diverse flora, and the calming presence of the Passaic River create an oasis within the city. Whether you’re an avid hiker or a casual stroller, the riverside trails provide an opportunity to connect with nature in the midst of historical surroundings.

Present-Day Preservation Efforts

A Commitment to Conservation

The establishment of Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park in 2011 marked a significant milestone in the ongoing efforts to preserve both the city’s industrial heritage and its natural treasures. Managed by the National Park Service, the park stands as a living classroom, inviting visitors to learn about the symbiotic relationship between industry and nature.

Educational Programs and Events

In addition to its role as a historical and natural haven, the park hosts a variety of educational programs and events. From guided tours elucidating the industrial innovations that shaped Paterson to workshops on environmental conservation, the park is a vibrant center for learning and community engagement.

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Photo by: National Parks Service

Plan Your Visit

Visitor Information

If you’re planning a visit to Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park, here are a few key details:

Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park
72 McBride Avenue
Patterson, New Jersey 07501
Telephone: (973)-523-0370

Hours of Operation
Monday – Friday: 10:00 am – 4:00 pm
Saturday: 10:00 am – 4:00 pm
Sunday: 10:00 am – 4:00 pm

Entrance to the park is free

From I-80 east or west: Take I-80 to exit 57 to Grand Street, then Grand Street west to Spruce Street, then Spruce Street north to McBride Avenue, then right onto McBride Avenue. Entrance to Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park is on your left.

Tips for an Enjoyable Visit

  • Wear comfortable shoes for exploring the trails.
  • Bring a camera to capture the breathtaking views of the falls.
  • Check the park’s event calendar for special programs and activities.

Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park seamlessly weaves together the threads of history and nature, creating a tapestry that beckons visitors to delve into the past while enjoying the beauty of the present. Whether you’re a history buff, a nature lover, or someone seeking a peaceful retreat, a visit to this national park promises a fulfilling experience that transcends time and bridges the gap between industry and the environment.

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