Four years after the U.S. House of Representatives voted to create Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has signed the paperwork to make it so.
Secretary Salazar was in Paterson, New Jersey, this morning to sign the agreement with Paterson Mayor Jeffrey Jones that makes the historical park the 397th unit of the National Park System.
Secretary Salazar and Mayor Jones were joined by U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg and Robert Menendez, U.S. Representative Bill Pascrell, National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis, and Darren Boch, who was recently named superintendent-designate for the Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park. A native of Paterson, Darren previously served as deputy superintendent for the National Parks of New York Harbor, which include the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.
“Paterson and its falls played an integral role in the industrial growth of our nation and in the lives of immigrants who labored in the mills and ultimately joined unions to seek better working conditions and pay,” said Secretary Salazar. “By establishing this park, we not only tell the story of Paterson but we also contribute to the economic growth of the city today by attracting visitors and supporting jobs in local communities.”
According to the U.S.Geological Survey, "the potential power of the Great Falls of the Passaic River so inspired Alexander Hamilton that he organized the Society for Establishing Useful Manufactures and planned America's first industrial city. Pierre L'Enfant, the planner of Washington, D.C., designed a complex three-tired system that harnessed the falls and supplied water power to several industrial mills. The city of Paterson became a thriving industrial center known for the manufacture of silk and locomotive parts."
The agreement Secretary Salazar and Mayor Jones signed will transfer property and establish easements that will fulfill the requirements of the law authorizing the establishment of the new national park, signed by President Obama in March 2009.
"This is an historic time for the Great Falls and my home city of Paterson," said Senator Lautenberg. "With this designation, the Great Falls is America's newest national historical park, and one of our nation's most beautiful and historic landmarks will finally get the recognition it deserves. This new park will showcase the majesty of the falls and encourage more tourists, families, artists, students and businesses to come to Paterson and help strengthen this great city.”
“I’m incredibly proud, as a New Jerseyan and as the son of immigrants, to witness today’s declaration of Paterson Great Falls as a National Historic Park,” said Senator Menendez, who fought to get the legislation authorizing the new park approved by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. “From the Great Falls, through the raceways and waterwheels along the Passaic, flowed the blood, sweat, and tears of the men and women who powered the industrial revolution and made this nation great. The park’s history is now part of the story of America.”
The Great Falls of Paterson became a National Natural Landmark in 1967, and part of the City of Paterson was designated as a National Historic Landmark District in 1976. The legislation signed by President Obama in 2009 authorizes Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park “to preserve and interpret for the benefit of present and future generations certain and natural resources associated with the Historic District.”