Paterson, with an estimated population of 148,708 (2006), is New Jersey's third largest city. Known as the Silk City for its dominant role in silk production during the latter 19th century, today remains a center of industry and technology. Paterson was originally formed as a township from portions of Acquackanonk Township in 1831 and Passaic County in 1837. The city was officially incorporated on April 14,1851 and reincorporated on March 14,1861.
Paterson has a rich modern history beginning in 1791 when Alexander Hamilton helped found the Society for the Establishment of Useful Manufactures (S.U.M.), which helped encourage the harnessing of energy from the Great Falls of the Passaic to secure economic independence from British manufacturers. Paterson was founded from this society and soon became the cradle of the industrial revolution in America. Paterson was named for William Paterson, Governor of New Jersey, statesman, and signer of the Constitution.
The industries developed in Paterson were powered by the 77-foot high Great Falls, and a system of water raceways that utilized the power of the falls. The city began growing around the falls that powered the mills. Paterson was also famous for being the site of early experiments with submarines by inventor John Holland. Two of Holland's early models — one found at the bottom of the Passaic River — are on display in the Paterson Museum, housed in a former mill near the Passaic Falls.
Paterson is an ethnically diverse city due to the thousands of immigrant workers that came to the area to man the many mills and factories. It is often said that Paterson is home to at least 58 different immigrant nationalities. Many second and third generation Puerto Ricans have been calling Paterson home since the 1950s, but most recently first generation Dominican, Peruvian, Colombian, Central American, Mexican, Bolivian, and Argentine immigrants have arrived. Today, this diversity is reflected in the city's many stores and restaurants.
Every summer, Patersonians enjoy an African-American Day Parade, a Dominican Day Parade, a Puerto Rican Day Parade, a Peruvian Day Parade, and a Turkish-American Day Parade. Paterson is considered by many the capital of the Peruvian Diaspora in the U.S. Paterson's Peruvian community celebrates what is known as "El Señor de los Milagros" or "Our Lord of Miracles" on October 18 through the 28th of every year.
Once a premier shopping and leisure destination of northern New Jersey, competition from the malls in upscale neighboring towns like Wayne and Paramus have forced the big chain stores out of Paterson’s downtown. The biggest industries are now small businesses because the factories have moved overseas. However, the city still attracts many immigrants. Many of these immigrants have revived the city's economy, especially through small businesses.