READY TO ROLL AT PATERSON RIVERSIDE STATION - PHOTO BY DR. THOMAS DAYSPRING

READY TO ROLL AT PATERSON RIVERSIDE STATION - PHOTO BY DR. THOMAS DAYSPRING

Sunday, June 29, 2008

SILK CITY


OLD WORLD

Paterson was once a thriving a textile town called the ``Silk City'' and the fire department protected a population of Old World immigrants - Italians, Jews and others - drawn to the looms.

Following a tenement fire on Main Street: ``The fire department reported without qualification that twenty-one families and one band of gypsies had been left homeless,'' according to the 1974 book ``About Paterson'' by Christopher Norwood.

MAYOR GRAVES

Mayor Frank X. Graves - an old-school politician who served as chief executive from 1961-1966 and 1982 until his death in 1990 - patroled Paterson's streets in a black sedan equipped with police and fire radios.

``When he spotted a problem - a littered street, perhaps, or graffiti on a monument - he would use one of his two-way radios to demand immediate action from the appropriate municipal agency,'' The New York Times said in his obituary. ``He kept a child's doll and a softball in the car, which he gave to children at fire and accident scenes to calm them.''

YEARS OF DECAY

Paterson has languished since the textile mills started shutting down in the 1960s. Many buildings became abandoned - and some burned.

In the Herald & News in March 2000, Paterson Deputy Fire Chief James Tice said: ``What we run into, time and again, are buildings where the owner files for bankruptcy, the heat gets turned off, the sprinkler pipes freeze and burst, and the system has to be shut down … We can take the owners to court and try to force them to fix it, but you can't get blood out of a stone.''