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Paterson Great Falls named National Historical Park by Congress, President Obama

April 1, 2009

from our friend Leonard Zax:    paterson-falls21

“At a ceremony in the East Room of the White House on Monday, President Obama signed into law the Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park Act.  The Paterson Act is part of an omnibus parks and historic preservation bill that the President called one of the most important pieces of natural resource legislation in decades.

Ron Chernow, author of Alexander Hamilton, described the Paterson Great Falls as “not only a spot of spectacular beauty that deserves to be far better known, but one that occupies a place of supreme importance in the annals of American economic history.”  As the nation’s first Secretary of the Treasury, Hamilton founded the City of Paterson to begin implementing his plan to harness the force of the Great Falls—then the nation’s largest waterfall—to power new industries that would secure America’s economic independence.

patersonpostcardThe passage of this Act not only honors and preserves Paterson’s past; it will also brighten its future.  One federal agency has ranked Paterson as the most economically distressed city in the United States.  Residents and local community leaders deeply believe that the creation of the national historical park—coupled with preservation and redevelopment of the historic center of the city—will have an enormously positive impact on Paterson’s 175,000 residents.  We now have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reverse the course of urban decline that Paterson has suffered over the last 50 years.”

Now is the time for the State of New Jersey to step up and enact a state historic preservation tax credit that will, more than any other economic stimulus, jump start redevelopment in Paterson and across the state.  The Great Falls Park designation, coupled with a long-term plan for restoration and development in the surrounding neighborhoods and investments already made in key sites from NJ Historic Trust grants, set the stage for private investment that can dramatically reinvent Paterson.  More info on the proposed NJ historic rehabilitation tax credit.

Kudos to the many preservation and conservation advocates who have worked for years to see the creation of the National Park.  And kudos especially to Leonard Zax!  Slide show.

President Barack Obama’s Remarks

As Americans, we possess few blessings greater than the vast and varied landscapes that stretch the breadth of our continent. Our lands have always provided great bounty – food and shelter for the first Americans, for settlers and pioneers; the raw materials that grew our industry; the energy that powers our economy.

What these gifts require in return is our wise and responsible stewardship. As our greatest conservationist President, Teddy Roosevelt, put it almost a century ago, “I recognize the right and duty of this generation to develop and use the natural resources of our land; but I do not recognize the right to waste them, or to rob, by wasteful use, the generations that come after us.”

That’s the spirit behind the bipartisan legislation I’m signing today – legislation among the most important in decades to protect, preserve and pass down our nation’s most treasured landscapes to future generations.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. stephen g. weiss permalink
    August 3, 2009 10:28 am

    Len: Remember my wife and I from the Aegean cruise last year? Saw your write up in the August 3rd New Yorker and thought I’d drop you a line commending your efforts. Truth be told, I saw your article because I am a sometimes Michael Savage fan (sorry) and was reading his profile when I saw the Falls article too.

    Regards, Steve Weiss (Eastside, Class of ’55)

  2. Julie Dominick permalink
    September 6, 2009 12:09 pm

    Congratulations Leonard! As a Patersonian, I am thrilled to hear about the “Paterson Act.” I am an educator and local history enthusiast and have been saddened by the neglect and lack on interest in this amazing natural resource right in our own backyard. I enjoyed the slide show linked to the aforementioned article and wonder if there is anything I can personally do to get involved the preservation and/or public relations regarding the Falls.
    Julie Dominick
    Glenfield Middle School
    25 Maple Avenue
    Montclair, NJ 07501


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