The majestic Paterson Great Falls


I was hesitant to go that day. The overcast sky foreboded a heavy rain. But having been cooped up in the apartment, it was time to explore outdoors. We had wanted to see a waterfall by the Passaic River for a long time. We thought it was time to finally check out the place.

It wasn’t difficult to locate Paterson Great Falls. The narrow, sometimes convoluted roads, led us to this historic spot by the Passaic River.

We got there around 3pm and students were streaming out of their classrooms and their campuses. So, naturally, there was a heavy traffic as parents or guardians trooped to the schools for pickup.

Since I was not driving, I was surveying the surroundings. I always gravitated to old, historic structures and elegant architectures. Getting closer to the Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park, I started to see buildings with red-orange bricks, like the area had similar architectural motifs and styles.

It was not a busy day. When we got to the park, there were only a few cars parked and a few people milling about. But I must say it was all worth the trip. I thought Paterson Falls is a miniature version of Niagara Falls. Like Niagara Falls, it is open to the public and one can just walk around and enjoy the view.

A view of the Paterson Great Falls from the lookout area. Photo by Lexi Zotomayor &copy2022.

There is a lookout area where everyone can catch a glimpse of the cascading waters. On one side there is the preserved power plant whose rooftop serves as shelter for birds.

As I was staring at the plant, I noticed there is a pathway that would take us closer to the falls. So, we took the stairs until we crossed to the other side. To my left side is the main road, then the bridge, and the Passaic River that runs underneath the bridge. There’s a couple of benches with one of them occupied by young lovers enjoying a little bit of privacy until we got there.

The preserved power plant. Photo by Lexi Zotomayor

So walking past these benches, we were stopped by a sign hanging on the gate of the footbridge: we couldn’t go any farther than that. But to our left we could see the rollicking raging rapids joining the water below in a violent embrace, burbling on the rocks below.

It was breathtaking to say the least. I couldn’t get my sight off of it. I couldn’t get enough of it. I felt like being one with nature, experiencing the “dao”.

But I couldn’t be in such a trance for too long. We had to get back. So we retraced our steps, followed the path to go back to the parking area where a statue of Alexander Hamilton stands with a marker that states the park’s designation as a historic and national landmark. It was here in Paterson City where America began its journey as an industrial nation as envisioned by Hamilton.

We left the park with a promise to return and explore the other side of the park.

For those who have not been here, hop on your vehicle and take a short trip. It’s surely going to make your day complete. For me, another one of those spectacular sights crossed off my bucket list. But of course, though officially marked off on my list, a repeat is never out of the equation; it is always a certainty.

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