Landmark at Risk
District Significance
The ATP Site
Heritage Tourism
The Issues
Current Actions
City of Industry
Colt Gun Mill
Silk City
The Silk Strike of 1913
Rogers Locomotive
Other Industries
Alexander Hamilton
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Courtesy of the Paterson Museum

The Site

The Allied Textile Printing (ATP) Site

A 7-acre parcel of land within the historic district, known as the Allied Textile Printing (ATP) Site, is owned by the City of Paterson and is being considered for development. The ATP site is especially crucial to the historic district, not only because of the historic value of the structures within the site, but because of the terrain and location. It is adjacent to the Passaic River, across form the Valley of the Rocks, and directly below the beautiful Great Falls. It contains the third tier of the water raceway, including head and tailraces, and the remains of a complex collection of 30 mill buildings including portions of the Colt, Waverly, Todd, and Passaic Mills.

This area was one of the first locations developed by the S.U.M. In 1794, the Society, as it was called, established a shop for printing, bleaching and dying. This new mill measured 90 by 40 feet and was four stories high. The textile industry here continued throughout the economic reverses of many decades, evolving from the small shops which did carding and fulling to larger businesses where considerable yarns and fabrics were made.

Textiles were produced continuously on the A.T.P. site for 200 years. The adaptive nature of these mills allowed their uses to change over time. In 1840, John Ryle produced the nation's first skein of silk here. During the late 19th century and early 20th century Paterson was known as the "Silk City" of the world. At that time, approximately 121 firms in Paterson, involved in every facet of manufacturing the silk product, employed thousands of workers in their mills. The Waverly and Mallory mills of the 1840's and 1850's were only some of the large-scale silk mills which survived into the modern era under the corporate structure of Allied Textile Printers (A.T.P.).

Probably the most famous single building in Paterson is the Colt Gun Mill. This mill, on the A.T.P. site, is where Samuel Colt constructed his first production revolvers, known to collectors and historians as the Colt "Paterson."

Unfortunately, a series of fires began in 1983 devastating the area around the Colt Mill on the ATP site. These buildings have been reduced to decaying brick shells. Demolition by neglect has been a tragic theme in Paterson, and in particular, the Great Falls Historic District. The entire district has been listed since 1988 as a Priority One Threatened NHL in the Department of Interior's annual report to Congress on NHLs, based primarily on the condition of the ATP site.

the Colt Gun Mill today.The $1.67 Million in federal funding that was earmarked for the A.T.P. Site's stabilization, environmental cleanup, and archeological studies had been held up by the city's contract for an inappropriate pre-fabricated townhouse development on the site. The recent dedesignation of the housing developer was a major victory for concerned citizens and organizations and a step forward in the enhancement of the district's heritage tourism. However, there still continues to be a fractured and fierce controversy over the future of the site.

The current threat is the possible destruction of the ATP Site's remaining waterpower remnants and the lost opportunity to interpret them. Fortunately, there is mounting pressure from many people, organizations and political entities to conserve the historical ruins on the site. A genuine conservation and restoration of the ATP Site will draw people visiting the natural landmark Great Falls onto the ATP Site and into the rest of the historic district. This is absolutely necessary for a national park option. It will be a sad chapter of restoration history if this land and waterpower remains are not converted into a superb park that will keep these unique waterpower remnants as a monument to early America's ingenuity and hard work.

Excerpt from the National Park Service website:
"Three of the last remaining mills in the district, the Colt Gun Mill, the Mallory Mill and the Waverly Mill, have been gutted by fire. These three mills, now known as the ATP site, form a key contiguous group located along the Passaic River in the heart of the district. Despite the extensive damage, and the deteriorated condition of the three remaining mills, some portions may be salvageable. What survived as a cohesive industrial district will become a series of disassociated fragments if new, incompatible construction is allowed within the district boundaries."

Paterson Friends of the Great Falls was created to help advance the Great Falls / S.U.M. National Historic Landmark District as a heritage tourism destination. We advocate both the protection of the natural environment and the interpretation of this historic resource, including public access on the entire A.T.P. Site. We believe that the natural amphitheater on the western side, which was created when brownstone was quarried, should be improved for use as a public gathering space. This takes great advantage of the beautiful riverfront scenery below the falls and across the river at the Valley of the Rocks. The mill and waterpower remains on the eastern side should be stabilized for historic interpretation.

The restoration of the Colt Gun Mill could demonstrate how a waterwheel drives machinery with waterpower. This interpretive center could direct water from the raceway by flumes to a waterwheel. It could demonstrate how the power from this waterwheel can be transmitted through shafts, gears, and belts to individual machines within the mill building. The water can then return to the river via tailraces. An exhibit space could tell the story of Hamilton's ardent aim to convert the United States from an agrarian society to a capitalistic one. And, above all, an exhibit space could honor the countless men, women and children who worked these important mills of early industrial America.

We hope that you will be inspired to help find lasting opportunities for this historic district's preservation and economic growth. It would be a quality example of the integration of environmental protection and historic preservation of an industrial center in a hardened urban city.