Photo: Francisco Diez
Utah. Colorado. South Dakota. New Jersey? When you think about the grandeur of America’s National Parks, the Garden State is hardly the first state that comes to mind. But New Jersey is in fact the latest state with a park to get national status and support from the National Park Service due to its natural phenomenon: the Great Falls, a 77-ft. tall series of waterfalls of the Passaic River in the city of Paterson — a place which stakes the claim as the “birthplace of the Industrial Revolution.” This announcement marks the 397th park to be added to the National Park System.
Once featured in an episode of The Sopranos, the Great Falls has been in the scopes of the feds for decades; it is already listed in the National Register of Historic Places, and has been declared a National Historic Landmark District and National Historical Park. However, this latest bump in status from the U.S. Department of the Interior (which administers the National Park Service) gives the natural wonder the federal funding and attention it needs for proper maintenance. According to an article by Northern New Jersey’s The Record, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar signed the papers earlier this week to make it official, after decades of speculation that the falls would ever get national park status. However it will take years of work to get it on par with the likes of Yellowstone and Yosemite — at least from development point of view.
National parks in New Jersey are actually nothing new; the Delaware Water Gap National Recreational Area, which encompasses the wilderness on both the Pennsylvania and New Jersey sides of the Delaware River, has been under jurisdiction of the National Park Service for decades. This new national park in Paterson will only add to New Jersey’s cred that it does have natural phenomenon, despite all the pop culture jokes that it’s just a state full of industry and stereotypical Italian Americans.