Stadium Added to Paterson National Historic Park

In December 2014, a bill was approved to include Hinchliffe Stadium to the Paterson Great Falls National Historic Park in Paterson, New Jersey. Hinchliffe is the historic home of the New York Black Yankees and New York Cubans in baseball’s Negro National Leagues. The Black Yankees played in Paterson from 1933-1937, and again from 1939-1945. Hinchliffe was home to the Cubans from 1935-1936. Paterson National Park is now the only National Park to include a historic stadium.

Paterson, located by the Great Falls of the Passaic River, was one of the earliest industrial centers in the country. Alexander Hamilton—one of America’s important founders—was part of an elaborate project to achieve this purpose, along with the Society for Establishing Useful Manufacturers (S.U.M.) in 1792. This project saw the early development of water power systems for industrial use, as well as a variety of mechanized mills that were established in the District’s mills through the 20th century. These mills included cotton fabrics, railroad locomotives, and textile equipment.

The road to Paterson’s historic recognition was one of notable achievements. The Great Falls became a National Natural Landmark in 1967; part of Paterson was designated as a National Historic Landmark District in 1976; Great Falls Raceway and Power System became a Historic Civil Engineering Landmark in 1977; and, finally, President Obama signed the Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park Act as part of the Omnibus Public Lands Management Act on March 30th, 2009—making the park one of the newest parks within the National Park Service.


Courtesy of Hinchliffe Stadium, Paterson, New Jersey.
Courtesy of Hinchliffe Stadium, Paterson, New Jersey.

Hinchliffe Stadium, which was erected in 1932 by public funds during the Great Depression, is a rather large concrete oval creation that sits comfortably above the Great Falls. Hinchliffe was placed on the State and National Registers of Historic Places in 2004. The arena, which featured some of the best ballplayers in the country at the time, was home to a number of professional black sports teams. Unfortunately, these players could not gain acceptance into the major leagues because of their skin color. Some of the names Hinchliffe made famous are Josh Gibson, Oscar Charleston, and Leroy “Satchel” Paige. Currently, 11 players in the National Baseball Hall of Fame played at Hinchliffe.

Originally, Hinchliffe was meant to be a place where working-class children could visit to play. Yet, financial issues lead to Hinchliffe needing to be an investment that brought currency to Paterson. The 10,000-seat capacity of the stadium made it a popular destination for, along with baseball, a massive variety of sports like football, auto-racing, and track and field meets.

The popularity of Hinchliffe lasted into the 1950s. A weakening of preservation led to the closing of the stadium in 1997 (the stadium was still used for school sporting events up until this year). One of the most important people to help Hinchliffe become part of the National Park Service was Congressman Bill Pascrell, Jr., of the 8th Congressional District. He was a major supporter and was even the writer of a fine piece of content on the entire National Park proposal. The Hamilton Partnership played a leading role in helping the New Jersey Congressional delegation make this addition to the Park possible.

From: Friends of the Paterson Great Falls National Park