According to the National Parks Service page, Patterson is the birthplace of the American Industrial Revolution. It was America’s first planned industrial city. This city went through the economic highs and lows that happen to an industrial center.
Before the area was an industrial city, it was inhabited by the Lenni Lenape. After the Lenape, it was inhabited by Dutch settlers in the 17th century. 80 years later that all changed because of Alexander Hamilton. After the Revolutionary War, he was concerned about the lack of industry within the United States.
Patterson was booming during this time. The area became known as Silk City. However, the Great Depression hit Patterson hard. Factories because to close doors that was made worse by the manufacturing slump that came after World War II.
Located in Patterson, New Jersey, it is close to the center of the city. The water source comes from the Passaic River. The area was deeply affected by businesses leaving the area and it no longer being an industrial center.
In the mid-1960s, the mayor's wife, Mary Ellen Kramer wanted to revitalize the city. She focused on downtown Patterson and the Great Falls. Through her work to restore and preserve the hisotry of this area, the historic district of Patterson began to get notoriety.
The Great Falls were declared a National Landmark in 1976. Now the falls today are not used to power the mills or fuel an industrial city. This landmark is now a representation of the great industrial city That Patterson was.
Walking from the Great Falls you can, mills, factories, new technologies, and what shaped the workers and residents of Patterson.
How do you get to the Great Falls?
The Great Falls are located at, 72 McBride Ave, Paterson, NJ 07501.
From New York City: 39-minute drive
Take Lincoln Tunnel, over the George Washington Bridge. From here take NJ-495 W to NJ-3 W. Next you'll take Garden State Pkwy, this is a toll road so be mindful that you'll have to pay a toll. You'll take exit 155 for NJ-19 N to Grand St in Paterson. Take the Grand St exit from NJ-19 N from here Spruce street will take you to McBride Street and the Patterson Great Falls!
From Hoboken, New Jersey
This is similar to New York City except you won't need to take the Lincoln Tunnel! Unless you take Route 80. To get to route 80 from Hoboken, you'll need to Take I-95 N then get on I-80 Express W. Take exit 57A-57B for NJ-19 S toward Downtown/Paterson. Keep right to continue on Exit 57B, follow signs for Downtown Paterson and merge on to NJ-19 N. From here you'll take Market Street to McBribe Street.
There are three different ways to enter the park. If broken up into the lower falls, the bridge over the falls or at the top of falls. I suggest parking at the lower falls, there is a legit parking lot. From there you can get to all the different views easily!
I personally recommend the main entrance that if off McBride Ave. It’s also nice that there is legit parking with a walking path to the bridge and to the other side where you’re above the falls. The parking space is a decent size, you can spend a nice amount of time here.
When you enter the parking lot from the lower falls by the sign saying this is a historic spot, you have two options for stair going down. From there they have nice benches to the site along the water that are spread out so you can get a semblance of privacy. This space is called Overlook Park.
In Overlook Park there is an amphitheater seating you can sit at and enjoy the view. This is a great angle to get photos of the falls. I suggest going in the morning! You’ll get a vibrant sky, clear water, and potentially more mist coming off the falls.
If there was a decent about of snow in the winter, the fall will really flow in the spring and early summer. If you want to see strong flowing falls, that would an ideal time to go. I went in March and June of 2020 and I will say the water seemed to be flowing stronger in March.
We did have a light snowfall this year which can be a factor. Regardless, the falls were beautiful to see.
I did not take the bridge over the falls as you’ll see in this VLOG from my day going to the falls in June. I did enjoy my time here and I’m glad there is this beauty in the middle of such an urban area.
There are walking trails around the upper portion of the falls. It is great that you’re able to see the falls from so many different angles. The historic section of the Great Fall is nearby where silk and wool factories were. If you drive up Sprice Street you will see signs for Patterson historic district.
Oh what this spot must have looked like at it’s prime?! Nearby they have great spots to see like Lambert Castle or Garret Mountain.
Check out this video so you can see my visit to the Great falls in Patterson!
Save this pin to remember to explore Great Falls!