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Home arrow Working with Section 106 arrow ACHP Case Digest arrow Winter 2003 arrow New Jersey: Development of the Allied Textile Printing Site, Paterson
New Jersey: Development of the Allied Textile Printing Site, Paterson

Agency: National Park Service

This case, in which Paterson, New Jersey, prepares for a future use for the site of ruinous—yet historically significant—industrial structures and archeological features, is a powerful example of preservation as a key factor in economic investment.

The area’s urban history, complemented by the natural beauty of the Great Falls that powered the city’s industries, has inspired hopes that the area can be preserved and interpreted as a tribute to Alexander Hamilton’s ideals of economic self-sufficiency.

Established in 1792 by Alexander Hamilton to ensure the new Nation’s continued independence from Europe, the country’s first planned industrial community, now known as the Great Falls/Society for Useful Manufactures Historic District in Paterson, New Jersey, flourished as a model for Hamilton’s theory that successful industry would be essential to preserving the young republic’s economic independence.

Great Falls/Society for Useful Manufactures Historic District, Paterson, New Jersey

 

Great Falls/Society for Useful Manufactures Historic District, Paterson, NJ (photographer: Barbara Small; courtesy of Paterson Friends of the Great Falls)

 

 

The National Historic Landmark district still includes evidence of the manufacturing district’s original layout, which was based on a design by Pierre Charles L’Enfant. Much of the district’s original fabric from as early as the 1830s still survives, reflecting the development of the city’s firearms, locomotive, and textile manufacturing industries.

Remnants of the Colt Mill in the Great Falls/Society for Useful Manufactures Historic District, Paterson, New Jersey

 

Remnants of the Colt Mill in the Great Falls/Society for Useful Manufactures Historic District, Paterson, NJ (photographer: Barbara Small; courtesy of Paterson Friends of the Great Falls)

 

Paterson’s industries were powered by the 77-foot Great Falls of the Passaic—a National Natural Landmark that features the highest vertical drop on the East Coast and a vast and intricate system of water raceways that harnessed the power of the falls. The archeological remains of these raceways remain largely unstudied and are not yet interpreted for the appreciation of visitors to this key landmark of the American Industrial Revolution.

In 1992, Congress authorized an Urban History Initiative line item appropriation of $4.147 million for the historic district to be administered by the National Park Service and the City of Paterson through a cooperative agreement. The grant’s purpose was to preserve the historic district and to further viable economic uses for its resources.

The work funded by the grant will include site work relating to archeology, stabilization of ruins, and mitigation of hazardous materials on a seven-acre, city-owned site that once housed Allied Textile Printing, as well as the Colt, Waverly, and Passaic Mills.

Although the city considered a proposal for redevelopment of the site, some preservation groups involved in reviewing the proposed project under the Section 106 consultation process maintained that new development would limit preservation options.

A decision by the city to defer such plans enabled the National Park Service and the city to resolve the remaining issues in the consultation process and move forward with the site work pursuant to the terms of a programmatic agreement.

Congress has recently authorized the National Park Service to evaluate the Great Falls/Society for Useful Manufactures Historic District for possible inclusion in the National Park System. Such a study, as well as State and local planning initiatives, will allow the community to participate in determining the future of this important landmark.

Staff contact: Martha Catlin


Posted May 6, 2003

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