Great Falls Raceway and
Power System

1792

first major US water power system and basis for integrating urban planning with industrial development

The raceway and power system, constructed from 1792 to 1864, was the first major water power system in the United States. The project, conceived by Alexander Hamilton in 1791 and designed by Pierre Charles L'Enfant, engineer-planner of the Capitol, and Peter Colt is the basis of the oldest American community integrating water power, industrial development, and urban planning.

It was the abundance of inexpensive energy provided by the Great Falls raceway and water power system that attracted countless creative and innovative men and women who built and continually improved such industries as textiles and textile machinery, the Colt revolver, Rogers' and other steam locomotives, silk manufacturing, flax and jute production, early Wright aircraft engines, apparel manufacturing, and many more.

Upper Raceway Showing Flumes to Rogers Locomotive Buildings.
 
 

Landmark Location

Great Falls Visitor Center
65 McBride Avenue
Paterson, NJ 07050

Owner, if different than above

City of Paterson, NJ

Visiting Info

regular hours: 7 days a week,
9am to 6pm

Plaque location, if specific

on raceway above falls

Ceremony Notes

May 1977

Comments from
Visitors/Members

The original bronze plaque marking the designated landmark was stolen. It was replaced and reinstalled by ASCE in spring 2009.