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Most of the photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs, 20 to 200 megabytes in size) from the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) Many were digitized by LOC contractors using a Sinar studio back. They are adjusted by your webmaster for contrast and color in Photoshop before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here.

 
 
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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • UNFAIR TO BABIES, 1936

Paterson Panorama: 1901

Paterson Panorama: 1901

Circa 1901. "Paterson, N.J., from Water Works Park." Lovely Paterson, Pearl of the Passaic. 8x10 inch glass negative, Detroit Publishing Co. View full size.

 

Colt factory

One of those buildings is the original home of Samuel Colt's firearms factory. It is the larger building with the many windows on the right, known even when this photo was taken as the Colt Rifle Mill for the rifle-shaped weathervane that stood atop the building's original spire for years. The plant of Colt's short-lived Patent Arms Manufacturing Company was built in 1836 on the site of the Colt family's former nail mill, but closed seven years later, the buildings becoming a silk mill and that area of Paterson becoming a textile manufacturing center while Colt made his name and fortune with another incarnation of the firm in Connecticut. Some of the original building remains today as part of a national historic area, I believe. Attached is a rendering of what this area looked like around the time of the Civil War, with the spire of the Gun Mill salient.

One smoke stack remains

Ahh, the good ol' days

Poor Paterson... it's been popular since the mid-sixties to blame urban blight and ratty conditions on whatever ethnic group currently dominates the city. But here it is... photographic evidence that a) blight is blight; b) fond memories of yesteryear are occasionally myopic; and c) the industrial district is likely to be the worst spot in town.

Pearl of the Passaic? Not sure about Paterson, but until recorded voices took over for conductors on New Jersey Transit rail lines, a few of the old boys loved to announce: "Newark next... Newark, NJ, Paradise on the Passaic."

Colt

One of those buildings might be the original home of Samuel Colt's firearms factory.

Black & White, or Bluemner

It's wonderful that these black-and-white pictures of Paterson's mill area can be complemented by the brilliant watercolors of the area that Oscar Bluemner painted a few years later, such as 1915's "Expression of a Silktown, New Jersey."

 
THE 100-YEAR-OLD PHOTO BLOG
Shorpy.com | History in HD is a vintage photo blog featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1950s. The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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