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Preservation New Jersey Gala to honor Congressman, Leader of Paterson National Park effort

September 16, 2010

Scholars have concluded that Pierre L'Enfant's innovative water power system in Paterson, and many factories built later, constitute the finest remaining collection of engineering and architectural structures representing each stage of America's economic progress

Preservation New Jersey (PNJ), the statewide nonprofit historic preservation advocacy organization, will present two of its highest awards on Thurs. Sept. 23 to a New Jersey Congressman and a longtime, passionate civic leader who, together, worked for more than a decade to see enacted federal legislation making the Great Falls Historic District in Paterson a part of the United States’ National Park System. The passage of this legislation is the realization of a dream that Congressman Bill Pascrell has had since first becoming a Member of Congress in 1996, and a lifelong goal of Pateson native and distinguished Washington D.C. attorney Leonard A. Zax.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi joins Pascrell at Paterson's Great Falls. In October the House of Representatives voted to designate the Falls a new unit of the National Park Service.

In the 1790s, Alexander Hamilton told Congress and the American people that at the Great Falls he would begin implementation of his ambitious strategy to transform a rural agrarian society dependent upon slavery into a modern economy based on freedom. True to Hamilton’s vision, Paterson became a great manufacturing city, producing the Colt revolver, the first submarine, the aircraft engine for the first trans-Atlantic flight, more locomotives than any city in the nation, and more silk than any city in the world.

New Jersey’s Great Falls is the only National Historic District that includes both a National Natural Resource and a National Historic Landmark. In a special Bicentennial speech in Paterson with the spectacular natural beauty of the Great Falls in the background, the late President Gerald R. Ford said, “We can see the Great Falls as a symbol of the industrial might which helps to make America the most powerful nation in the world.”

Cong. Pascrell and Mr. Zax have tirelessly worked to see the Great Falls District be named both a New Jersey State Park and a National Historical Park, and Preservation New Jersey salutes their vision, tenacity, commitment and love for their native city.

Photo credit: Cong. Bill Pascrell

The Sarah P. Fiske Awards for longtime commitment to historic preservation will be presented to Cong. Pascrell and Mr. Zax during PNJ’s 11th annual Preservation Gala, to be held this year at the Molly Pitcher Inn in Red Bank, New Jersey, on Thurs., Sept. 23 at 6:00 p.m.  Tickets to the Gala, which will also see additional awards presented to preservation visionaries and building industry professionals, including Richard Moe, recently retired President of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, can be purchased online at www.preservationnj.org or by phone at 609.392.6409.

For 32 years, Preservation NJ has helped New Jerseyans to manage change in their communities by protecting and preserving the places that matter to them.

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