Paterson Seeks Recognition for Its Grit and Its Green
PATERSON, N.J. -- Situated in the heart of one of the Garden State's grittiest cities, the Great Falls National Historic Landmark District embodies an odd mix of industrial decay and roaring natural beauty. Water rushes down 70-foot cliffs into the polluted Passaic River below, just yards away from a shuttered red-brick plant with streaked, aging windows.
One of America's founding fathers once believed Paterson would be the model of how Americans could build a manufacturing center to out-compete Europe. Now, more than 200 years later, a handful of Paterson transplants in Washington, D.C., are trying to restore the city to its original promise.
"When you're telling the story of Paterson, you're telling the story of America," said Rep. William J. Pascrell Jr. (D-N.J.), who grew up in the city and became its mayor before coming to Congress.
Alexander Hamilton first saw Paterson as a young colonel when he, George Washington and the Marquis de Lafayette stopped nearby to picnic. Richard Brookhiser, one of Hamilton's biographers, wrote that the future Treasury secretary viewed the falls' water power "as an engine for factories, the high tech of the day."
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