Paterson, New Jersey, the seat of Passaic County. It is on the Passaic River, 17 miles (27 km) northwest of downtown New York City. Paterson was one of the earliest manufacturing cities in the nation and for many years was the nation's leading producer of silk textiles. Since World War II, its industries have been diversified to produce machinery and machine tools, locomotives, chemicals, garments, and plastics. The Paterson Museum, the Great Falls of the Passaic, and a historic district near the falls—an area of restored 19th-century mills and factories—are attractions.
Paterson was founded in 1791 when a group of businessmen headed by Alexander Hamilton chose its site for industrial development because of the power potential of the Great Falls. Cotton and silk textiles were among the early products. Labor unrest and prolonged strikes occurred on several occasions during the first half of the 20th century. Paterson has the mayor-council form of government.