Paterson Great Falls: Mary Ellen Kramer Park


Welcome back to National Parks and other public lands with T! 

falls map

Mary Ellen Kramer Park at the head of Paterson Great Falls is named for the ‘First Lady of Paterson.’ As the wife of Paterson’s Mayor for 14 years, Mary Ellen Kramer fought to preserve the Great Falls Historic District. In 1970, she was instrumental in blocking the construction of a highway over the falls that would have demolished the old silk mills.


Kramer’s efforts resulted in President Ford naming the district a National Historic Landmark in 1976. In 2001, the entire NJ Congressional Delegation appealed to Congress to open a feasibility study for inclusion of the falls in the National Park Service. In 2009, President Obama signed legislation naming Great Falls a National Historical Park and in 2011, the Department of the Interior officially designated it as the 397th NPS unit.


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Location: 72 McBride Avenue Extension, Paterson, NJ

Designation: National Historical Park

Date designated or established: 11/7/2011

Date of my visit: 1/26/2020

12 thoughts on “Paterson Great Falls: Mary Ellen Kramer Park

  1. Every now and then, I will do a post linked to the “power of one,” the ability of one person or a small group to make a difference.l Although Mary Ellen Kramer was better situated than most, it was still her conscious decision to act that made this park possible. It is great that such people exist.

  2. I had no idea! My husband was born in Great Falls, and I think he will enjoy reading about this. I only remember the description of Lewis and Clark when they first approached the falls–the sounds and sights must have been overwhelming!

    1. I think your husband’s Great Falls is a different place. This is Paterson Great Falls…Alexander Hamilton visited this area and helped to make this the birthplace of the American industrial revolution. It’s in northern NJ…Lewis and Clarke forged more westward paths. I know there is also a Great Falls on the Potomac, north of DC, but I don’t think that’s your husband’s birthplace either…

      1. I completely missed the part of your post where you listed the location of the falls. How embarrassing.
        You are absolutely right-my husband was born in Great Falls, Montana, which is where Lewis and Clark had to portage their boats. Quite a ways away! 🙂

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