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The Paterson Great Falls: A Treasure to Behold  

The Great Falls overlooks the Allied Textile Printing Site in Paterson, New Jersey. Photo by Kaity Assaf

When you read the words, ‘National Park’ a couple of places come to mind: the Yellowstone National Park, the Grand Canyon National Park and even the Great Falls Park, a small national park in Virginia.  

But what if I told you there is a hidden gem tucked away in New York City’s backyard, in Paterson, New Jersey, called the Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park. 

Or as I sometimes refer to it, the mini Niagara Falls. 

In 1791, Alexander Hamilton envisioned America’s first planned industrial city at the Paterson Great Falls.This site was selected because the hydropower created by the Passaic River was essential for getting a manufacturing center up and running. 

From above the Great Falls of the Passaic River, circa 1794, a canal and a series of raceways carried water to the mills below the falls. 

The falls were designated a National Historic Park by President Barack Obama in 2009. 

Kelsey Sirica, a Park Ranger, shows some of the duties she does around the Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

With each visit I take to the Paterson Great Falls, I am always captivated by what I see and learn from this historic location. 

Kelsey Sirica, a park ranger at the Great Falls in Paterson, New Jersey. Photo by Kaity Assaf

Great Falls Lawn View in Paterson, New Jersey. Photo by Kaity Assaf

Kelsey Sirica brings the Welcome Center outside at the Great Falls. Photo by Kaity Assaf

Due to covid, National Park stamps are done on pieces of paper instead of passport books at the Great Falls in Paterson, New Jersey. Photo by Kaity Assaf

The Passaic River cuts through the Watchung Mountains and drops more than 70 feet into a narrow cataract between walls of rock at Paterson Great Falls. Photo by Kaity Assaf

A remnant of a building on an old Allied Textile Printing site. Construction is underway on the historic industrial ruins near the Great Falls in Paterson, New Jersey. Photo by Kaity Assaf

Park Ranger picks up headphones with grappler at Paterson Great Falls in Paterson, New Jersey. Photo by Kaity Assaf

Kelsey Sirica says the constant use of hand sanitizer has chipped away at her nail polish at the Paterson Great Falls. Photo by Kaity Assaf

The Great Falls on the Passaic River is adjacent to the Allied Textile Printing Site in Paterson, New Jersey. Photo by Kaity Assaf

The element of water adds to the landscape of the Great Falls in Paterson, New Jersey. Photo by Kaity Assaf

Kelsey Sirica wears a hazmat suit at the end of her shift to sanatize the office at the Great Falls in Paterson, New Jersey. Photo by Kaity Assaf

In between ranger duties at the park, Kelsey Sirica stops to look at the Great Falls in Paterson, New Jersey. Photo by Kaity Assaf