The water cascades over rugged cliffs, drops 77 feet, and rushes through the Passaic River Gorge. Paterson, New Jersey was established in the s to utilize the power of these falls. Massive brick mill buildings lined the canals that transformed the power of the falls into energy to drive machines.
These mills manufactured many things during the long history of this industrial city--cotton textiles, steam locomotives, Colt revolvers, and aircraft engines. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, they produced silk fabrics in such quantities that Paterson was known as "Silk City. The suburban house where leaders of the radical Industrial Workers of the World rallied thousands of workers on Sunday afternoons still stands. The elaborate home of one of the mill owners still looks down over the city from its prominent position on the side of Garret Mountain.
Many of the mill buildings also survive, mute witnesses to a turbulent history. The early 20th century was a time of increased conflict between labor and management throughout the United States. From the textile mills of the Northeast, to the steel mills and factories of the Midwest, to the mines and lumber camps of the Rocky Mountain West, thousands of workers all over the country walked picket lines.
According to one source, there were at least 1, work stops a year at the turn of the century and as many as 2, a year in Silk was a relative latecomer in Paterson's long industrial history. The city had been established during the great debate of the s between Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson and their allies about industrial development.
By the S. When the first "manufactory" failed inthe S. Silk was first manufactured in Paterson inbut did not prosper until after the Civil War, when high tariffs on imported silk products helped American producers compete with their European rivals. Silk manufacturing was a big business before the days of synthetics. Silk, the "queen of fibers," dominated high fashion and the luxury trade, but women at all economic levels wanted their "best dresses" to be silk.
Paterson had many advantages for the silk trade. It had abundant water supplies for power and processing and good transportation facilities.
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It also was close to New York City, the center of the fashion industry. Most importantly, Paterson had a supply of workers who understood the peculiar characteristics of the delicate silk fiber. By the s, the city was producing almost half of the silk manufactured in the United States and had earned a nationwide reputation as "Silk City. The Great Republic D. Heath and Company, Identify the Passaic River. Paterson is located at the Great Falls of the Passaic, where the river cuts through the edge of the Wachung Mountains and drops almost 80 feet. Why would this location have appealed to men looking for an industrial site at the end of the 18th century?
Note the distance between New York City and Paterson. New York was the center of the fashion industry, the port of entry for imported raw silk, the nation's leading capital market, and the embarkation point for thousands of immigrants.
How do you think Paterson's proximity to New York affected its success as a silk manufacturing center? Barbour Flax Spinning Company Complex, One of the largest linen works in the U. Dolphin Mill Complex, Initially spun hemp into rope, later produced jute carpeting. Rogers Locomotive Company Complex, The largest of three locomotive plants in Paterson in the late 19th century.
Continued in operation until Upper Raceway, Casper Silk Mill, Middle Raceway, Cooke Locomotive Company Complex, s, Hamilton Mill, includes remains of first S. Used for silk weaving and throwing in the s. Damaged by fire. Franklin Mill, ca. Built as a cotton mill, later used to produce machinery, steam fire engines, locomotives. Housed a foundry and silk weaving in the s. Essex Mill, s, s. Incorporates portion of Old Yellow Mill used for experiments in manufacturing paper in continuous sheets. Later produced silk mosquito netting. Used for silk weaving in the s. Allied Textile Printers Complex, with many later additions.
The first Colt revolver was manufactured in the Gun Mill building. Experiments in producing silk were begun here in John Ryle, the first to manufacture silk successfully, operated a silk works in the building from to his death in In the s, most of the complex housed one of Paterson's largest silk dye works.
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Other buildings were used for silk weaving. The complex was seriously damaged by fire in the s.
Congdon Mill, ca. Used by various silk manufacturers. Phoenix Mill, ca.
Originally a cotton mill, was used for silk beginning in the s. Also manufactured silk-processing equipment. Used for silk weaving in s. Harmony and Industry Mills, Harmony Mill initially used for cotton.
Both mills owned by William Adams and Co. Used for silk dyeing and weaving in s. Lower Raceway, Questions for Map 2 1. Using the key, examine Map 2 carefully. Locate the upper, middle, and lower raceways.
These canals carried water from the falls to the mills. Turbines and gears converted it into power to operate machinery.
The S. The mills along the raceways continued to use water power until the early 20th century. Why might they have used water power after steam, electricity, and other sources of power became available? Why would this have been a profitable operation for the S. How many different industries were located in the mills in the historic district? How many of the mills were used for silk?
Locate the area marked "Dublin. Both owners and workers lived in Dublin during that period. Why do you think that was the case?
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By the early 20th century, those who could afford to had moved out to the suburbs, which could now be reached by streetcar. Why do you think people would have wanted to move out of the city if they had the opportunity? Silk is a natural fiber taken from the cocoons of the silk worm. The silk fibers are so fine that a single pound might measure 1, to 1, miles or even more. All raw silk used in Paterson was imported, principally from China, Japan, and Italy. The process of producing silk fabrics was divided into four stages: throwing twisting the silk fibers into thre strong enough to be used in the loomsdyeing, weaving, and finishing.
InPaterson dominated the weaving of high quality broad silk and ribbon. In the dye houses, workers dipped skeins length of thread wound in a loose long coil of silk thread and pieces of fabric into large vats of hot chemicals. Almost all of the workers were men. Master dyers, many from traditional silk centers like Lyons, France, or Como, Italy, were highly skilled craftsmen. Dyers' helpers were generally unskilled and low paid. Italian dye house workers had a reputation for being political radicals.
In Paterson's ribbon and broad silk weaving factories, the delicacy and high cost of the fiber and the value of the end product defined the work, the working conditions, and the relations between the workers and the owners.