• Visitor Information

    Location:

    The Paterson Museum is located in the Thomas Rogers Building at 2 Market Street in Paterson , N.J.

    Phone 973-321-1260

    Hours of Operation:


    Tuesday thru Friday 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM 
Saturday and Sunday 12:30 PM to 4:30 PM 
Closed on Mondays and Holidays.

    Admission: 
Adults $2.00 
Children are free.

    Access: 
The Museum is accessible to handicapped visitors. For special assistance, please call in advance.

    Guided Tours: 
School and community groups by appointment. Please call for more information.

Silk City

Silk manufacture came to Paterson in 1841 when John Ryle and other silk textile workers were hired by Goerge A. Murray to staff a small factory in the attic of the “Gun Mill”. The business succeeded to the point where, in 1855, 600 people were working in “silk”.

In 1885, the industry employed almost 25,000 men and women in the Paterson area. The town’s motto became “An arm of iron in a glove of silk”. At the height of production, ca. 1910, about 60% of all “raw” silk passed through this area and received, at least, two of the many operations required in the complicated process of making finished silk. Paterson had become the “ Lyons of the World!”.

Back to top|Contact me

Gasoline Alley

Behind East 29 th Street in Paterson , between 17 th and 18 th avenues, was a double row of garages, put up early in the century to store the new automobiles that many of the silk mill workers were buying to replace their horses. Whether the Gasoline Alley comic strip took its name from the alley in Paterson , or vice-versa, the row of garages soon acquired that title. Racing people moved in, including West Coast star Ted Horn in 1930.

Willy Belmont opened the Gasoline Alley Tavern at 838 Market Street and soon it was a popular racers’ hangout. Visiting drivers from all over the U.S. would set up shop in rented quarters while they raced at Nutley , Woodbridge or HoHoKus. A young Chris Economaki became a go-fer for many of the visitors, eager to give directions to the track in exchange for a ride to the races.

Eventually, Fred Post had his race car upholstery shop there. Pappy Hough built his “Five Little Pigs” in the stalls, while Dick Simonek’s machine shop did much of the technical work. There was the crankshaft shop, J&J Electric, Dick O’Dea’s outboard shop, a cycle shop and garages for a local hot rod club. Ken-Mar Machine took over the space in the 1950′s and Frankie DelRoy’s Speed Shop was not far away on Route #46.

Gasoline Alley survived into the early 1990′s, but at the end of the century the area had been cleared for new light industrial construction, thus came the end of an era.

Back to top|Contact me

Paterson Museum Nathan Barnert carriage house 1927-1981

                                                                                                         Museum History

The Paterson Museum was organized in 1925 by the City of Paterson Library ‘s Board of Trustees. The museum began its operations in the assembly room of the Danforth Public Library with a display of natural history items that had been donated to the library by local residents. In 1927, the collections were moved to the carriage house of former Paterson mayor and philanthropist Nathan Barnert. The house was located on Summer Street next to the Danforth Library. Over the years, the museum’s collections grew in size and scope, and additional space was needed for exhibitions. This need was met in 1982, when the restoration of the Thomas Rogers Locomotive Erecting Shop (1873) was completed. Mayor Frank X. Graves, Jr. was instrumental in relocating the museum to the Rogers Building , the focal point of the 119-acre Great Falls Historic District. The museum’s new location, in close proximity to the nationally famous Great Falls of Passaic, provides a unique backdrop for our exhibits.

From its inception, the Paterson Museum has stressed the educational aspects of it’s interpretive exhibits. A major strength of the museum lies in its varied collections, including local archaeology, history, and mineralogy. Paterson has been a birthplace and springboard to many innovators and inventors. The museum relates to the history of Paterson by showing its evolution as a machinery and textile center, the “Silk City,” locomotive manufacturing, Colt arms, and the unique Holland submarines.

Back to top|Contact me

Colt Paterson

                                                                                                               Samuel Colt

Samuel Colt did not invent the revolving pistol, but rather perfected it. Elisha Collier designed a revolving pistol in 1818. Colt first saw Elisha Collier’s revolver in the Far East . It was a weapon that used a flint and steel firing device to set off the powder consecutively in the several chambers of the gun’s magazine. Sam Colt rea liz ed that the newly developed, a mercury cap-nipple, system could be adapted to Collier’s earlier revolver. By 1830 many flintlock, single shot guns were being converted to the newly invented firing method.

When Sam Colt returned to America in 1832, he paid Boston and Baltimore gunsmiths to build a number of test revolvers using cap and nipple designs as the firing mechanism on the guns. To pay for the work, and to support himself, Sam Colt traveled about the eastern states giving demonstrations on the effects of newly discovered “laughing gas” (nitrous oxide). When inhaled, the strange gas caused people to laugh involuntarily, and if inhaled in quantity, made dentistry “painless”.

Sam’s uncle, Roswell Colt, helped him market his ideas by introducing him to investors in Paterson , New Jersey and New York City . They formed the Patent Arms Company with capital stock listed at $300,000. Sam Colt owned a single $1,000 share and was not an officer or director. The new corporation then hired him as one of their salesmen. He held a contract to sell the Patent Arms revolving weapons whatever he could, drew on a Patent Arms expense account and was also paid a commission on each weapon that he sold. Sam went off to England where, in early 1836, he obtained patent protection in England . Colt then returned to America to obtain patent protection there.

Back to top|Contact me