Paterson was originally formed as a township from portions of Acquackanonk Township on April 11, 1831, while the area was still part of Essex County. Paterson became part of newly created Passaic County on February 7, 1837. The industries developed in Paterson were powered by the 77-foot-high Great Falls and a system of water raceways that harnessed the power of the falls, providing power for the mills in the area until 1914 and fostering the growth of the city around the mills. The district originally included dozens of mill buildings and other manufacturing structures associated with the textile industry and, later, the firearms, silk and railroad locomotive manufacturing industries. In the latter half of the 19th century silk production became the dominant industry and formed the basis of Paterson’s most prosperous period, earning it the nickname “Silk City.”
Despite Paterson’s rich history of strong industry and relative success, Paterson does not resemble the same things it used to. Poverty is widespread in this city, with well over 20% of its inhabitants living under the national poverty line. Obviously this would present the children on this poverty-stricken city with a problem as well. With over 40% of the children in this city under the poverty line, education becomes a luxury instead of a right.
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