Industrialization in Bergen County
The city of Paterson was one of the birthplaces of the Industrial Revolution in the United States in the 18th century. Alexander Hamilton, who visited the Great Falls of the Passaic River in 1778, was among the first people to envision it as a planned industrial site using the waterfall to provide power for machinery. The Society for the Establishment of Useful Manufactures (SUM) was chartered by New Jersey under Hamilton’s direction, and the society in turn founded the city of Paterson, naming it in honor of Governor William Paterson. The SUM was exempt from paying certain taxes and became a prototype for public–private ventures in the 19th century.
By 1796, however, the SUM’s efforts to build mills had failed because it did not generate sufficient profits to cover the start-up costs. The SUM changed direction, leasing sites to other ventures to establish mills while retaining ownership of dams and raceways—that is, the source of power. By 1815, 13 water-powered cotton mills were operating beside the falls.
Mechanized workplaces and factories were also developing in Newark, New York City, and Philadelphia, as well as through New England, during this period. This new economic activity spurred the building of mills along many rivers and streams in rural areas. By 1834, 16 cotton factories, five woolen factories, ten carding machines and four fulling mills for making textiles had been opened in rural Bergen County, including the Rosencrantz cotton warp mill.
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