Great Falls Hearing Set On National Park Status

The Record
By:  John Cichowski, Staff
Feb. 28, 2001

A House subcommittee will begin hearings March 13 to assess whether Paterson's Great Falls Historic District should become a federal park run by the National Park Service.

"Once we are heard, I think it will be undeniable that Great Falls should become a national park," said Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr., D-Paterson, in announcing the hearings Tuesday.

The announcement came one week after Pascrell and Democratic Sens. Robert G. Torricelli and Jon S. Corzine began a campaign to direct the park service to study the suitability of converting the landmark into a national park.

The hearing will be conducted by the House Committee on Resources' Subcommittee on National Parks and Public Lands.

The bill's sponsors believe a national park will draw enough public use to spur development in the economically depressed city. They cited the historic importance of the falls, which attracted the cotton, textile, silk, firearms, and locomotive industries and produced a huge skilled labor force in the 19th century.

"The hearing sends a signal that we are serious about . . . giving the Great Falls and the neighborhood the attention and resources it rightly deserves," Pascrell said.

The Park Service, however, has noted that it already honors the East Coast role in the Industrial Revolution with a park in Lowell, Mass., another early textile manufacturing hub. Spokesmen also have pointed to the skimpy budget of the Park Service.

On a 1976 visit celebrating the nation's 200th anniversary, President Gerald R. Ford designated the Great Falls a national historic district, the highest level of federal recognition for a historic site.