Paterson’s Great Falls, inspiration for writers, named national park

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President Barack Obama signed legislation on Monday naming the Great Falls on the Passaic River in Paterson, N.J. a national historic park.

The 77-foot falls, site of early American industrial plants, has also inspired American writers. The great 20th century poets William Carlos Williams, whose epic work “Paterson” used the falls and the river as embodiments of American spirit, and Allen Ginsberg, who also commemorated the falls in his work, grew up nearby. Novelist John Updike partially set his late novel, In the Beauty of the Lillies, at the falls. The bridge over the falls even served as the site of a mob killing in “The Sopranos.”

A news video by the Newark Star-Ledger showing the falls and environs.


Mark Pritchard is the author of the novel How They Scored and the collections of sex stories "Too Beautiful" and "How I Adore You." He lives in San Francisco. More from this author →