The Great Falls National Historical Park saw a record number of 177,000 visitors last year, according to the National Park Service.
“Word is spreading that the city founded by Hamilton, the biggest star on Broadway, is a destination,” said Darren Boch, superintendent of the Great Falls National Historical Park. The park has been expanding its programs and visitor services by working with its partners, he said.
Over the next year, $8 million in local, state, and federal funds will be used to make landscape improvements to the park. The historic Hinchliffe Stadium, once home to the legendary Negro League, will soon undergo the first phase of rehabilitation.
“As visitors continue to set new records by visiting the park to experience all Paterson has to offer, they help support the local economy,” Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. said. “We created the Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park expecting it could be a shining symbol for the City and an engine for a revitalization of Paterson,”
The park has teamed up with local businesses in the area in a campaign called “Great Falls, Great Food, Great Stories” to connect visitors to some of the best ethnic cuisines in New Jersey. Paterson is home to some of the nation’s top ethnic restaurants — Middle Eastern and Peruvian – in the Northeast.
The park also holds the annual Great Falls Festival, the Hinchliffe Stadium Motor Racing Association exposition, and the Motorcycle Run and Bike Show by the Paterson Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association.
Paterson has plans to offer more to its visitors. Mayor Jose “Joey” Torres plans to house several museums in the Field House at the Hinchliffe Stadium.
“Today’s data illustrates the breadth and depth the beauty of our National Park has had on the region and further energizes us in our goals to incorporate, in the existing Field House at Hinchliffe Stadium, a three-story structure that would permanently house the NJ Hall of Fame, Inventor’s Hall of Fame, NJ Sports and Negro League Museums as well as a hospitality/suite, which would allow the viewing of the expanse of the park,” Torres said. “This is only appropriate as we create a destination to honor the great Negro League Baseball Circuit, and especially Paterson’s native son Larry Doby, a Hall of Famer, who broke the color barrier, when he was drafted to the American League in 1947.”
Doby did in the American League what Jackie Robinson did in the National League.
The Hamilton Partnership for Paterson is also launching a new version of its self-guided tour phone application “Mill Mile” to include voices from cast of the “Hamilton,” a Super Bowl star, a star of the film “Paterson,” and a group of local young people. The nonprofit is also working on a new visitor learning center being planned by the acclaimed exhibit designers for the new Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.
Paterson was not alone in seeing record breaking number of visitors. The National Park Service as a whole saw 331 million visits last year which is 23.7 million more than the previous year.