Last year I was able to take a car ride over to northern New Jersey to the city of Paterson for one of the more interesting national park sites I’ve ever visited. Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park has some interesting scenery and an even more impressive set of history. Having only been established in 2011 and being centered in a neighborhood in which investment is only just now starting to take place, the park is still clearly a work in progress.
I began my visit in the visitor center where there is a small gift shop and a few videos that can be played with a touch of a button. The videos were interesting because they show you the wide range of history that has touched upon this place. For instance, I visited the park at the tail end of Hamilton’s time in the zeitgeist so it was interesting to learn that Alexander Hamilton saw the Paterson Great Falls area as a perfect place to create an industrial epicenter. Unfortunately, his plans never came to fruition.
I left the visitor center and took a short drive down a block to get to the centerpiece of the park, the Great Falls of the Passaic River. Eventually, you will just be able to walk right from the visitor center onto multiple pathways around and through the falls but most of them were still under construction when I was there. The falls aren’t exactly in the most scenic or nature friendly area, but they are so enormous and gorgeous in their own right you could see why this area was able to gain NPS status. After walking the pathway and snapping some pictures I walked right across the parking lot to Hinchliffe Stadium, which is the only baseball stadium in the entire National Park system. Hinchliffe Stadium was a Negro league stadium where Larry Doby (the first player to break the color barrier in the American League) played. The stadium is in a depressing state of disrepair. All that makes it stick out from looking like an abandoned parking lot is the old scoreboard. However, there does seem to be genuine intent in rehabilitating the place. The visit did make me thing of how cool it would have been to attend a baseball game with the falls roaring in the background.
I ultimately spent under an hour at the park but I sure did get to explore a large variety of interests on the visit.