NJ - Paterson: The Great Falls of the Passaic
The Great Falls of the Passaic is a 77-foot high waterfall on the Passaic River. Formed at the end of the last ice age approximately 13,000 years ago when a glacier receded, blocking and altering the course of the river and carving through underlying basalt formed 200 million years ago, the falls became the site of a habitation for Lenape Native Americans, and later for Dutch settlers in the 1690s.
Alexander Hamilton first visited the falls in 1778 and when appointed Secretary of Treasury, selected the site as the nation's first planned industrial city. In 1791, he helped found the Society for the Establishment of Useful Manufactures (S.U.M.) and hired Pierre Charles L'Enfant to design a system of canals, known as raceways, which supplied power for watermills, establishing Paterson as a center for the nation's burgeoning mill industry. In 1793, the falls was the site of the first water-powered cotton spinning mill in New Jersey. In 1812, it was the site of the state's first continuous roll paper mill. In 1914, the S.U.M. Great Falls Power Plant was opened to produce electricity from the energy of the falling water of the falls. The society continued operation until 1945 when its charter and property were sold to the city of Paterson, and the area fell into disuse. In 1971, the Great Falls Preservation and Development Corporation was established to restore and redevelop the historic mill buildings and raceways.
The falls were featured in Pax Soprana, episode 6 of the first season of The Sopranos, when Mikey Palmice threw Rusty Irish, one of Larry Boy Barese's top earners, off the bridge to his death.
Great Falls of the Passaic and S.U.M. Historic District National Register #86001507 (1986)
Great Falls of the Passaic and S.U.M. Historic District New Jersey State Register (1986)