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Paterson History, New Jersey

Paterson, NJ US – History: The Silk City

The city became the cradle of America’s Industrial Revolution. The city was named after New Jersey Governor, William Patterson.

City Plans

Pierre L’Enfant, city planner of Washington, became the first superintendent of S.U.M. Project. His plan was to harness the power of Great Falls via channel in an aqueduct and rock. However, directors of the society believe that his plan was long and way over-budget. Peter Colt replaced him. Although his plans were to use less-complicated reservoir systems, it had some problem and a scheme resembling the original plan of L’Enfant.

Industries of Paterson developed using the Great Falls (77-feet high). They were also supported water raceways systems, which harnessed the fall’s power. The city started expanding around these falls. This district included mill building by the dozens along with other manufacturing structures, which were associated to textile industry. Later on, those structures were used for railroad locomotive, firearms and silk manufacturing industries.

Silk City of the Eighteenth Century

Around the middle of the 18th century, silk production started dominating other industries and allowed Paterson to attain prosperity. This helped it earn the nickname of ‘Silk City’. Samuel Colt started manufacturing firearms in the city since 1835. Paterson was also the site for John Holland’s experiment using a submarine. Two of his early models can still be seen at Paterson Museum, which is housed near Passaic Falls.

A Mecca for Immigrant Laborers

Paterson became a Mecca for immigrant laborers. The city also became the site of labor unrest, which primarily targeted towards anti-child labor legislation. In 1913, it also witnessed a 6-month long Paterson’s Silk strike, which demanded better work culture. However, labors were defeated by their employers.

Industries following Second World War

During the Second World War, Paterson played an imperative role in aircraft engine industries. However with the end of the war, there was a decline in many urban areas and the city of Paterson wasn’t any exception. Since the 1970s, unemployment rates have considerably risen in the city.

Paterson was a premier leisure and shopping destination of Northern New Jersey. Competition forced big-chain stores out of the downtown area in Paterson. Today, the biggest industries in the city include small businesses, as most factories have moved to overseas location. Still, the city attracts numerous immigrants. Most of these immigrants have helped in reviving the city’s economy, especially via small businesses.

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