Paterson () is the largest city in and the county seat of Passaic County, New Jersey, United States.
As of the 2010 United States Census, its population was 146,199, rendering it New Jersey's third-most-populous city reflecting a decline of 3,023 (-2.0%) from the 149,222 counted in the 2000 Census, which had in turn increased by 8,331 (+5.9%) from the 140,891 counted in the 1990 Census. For 2019, the Census Bureau's Population Estimates Program calculated a population of 145,233, a decrease of 0.6% from the 2010 enumeration, making the city the 181st-most-populous in the nation. Paterson has the third-highest density of any U.S. city with over 100,000 people, behind only New York City and San Francisco.
Paterson is known as the "Silk City" for its dominant role in silk production during the latter half of the 19th century. It has since evolved into a major destination for Hispanic immigrants as well as for immigrants from Bangladesh, India, South Asia, and the Arab and Muslim world. Paterson has the second-largest Muslim population in the United States by percentage.
The area of Paterson was inhabited by the Algonquian-speaking Native American Acquackanonk tribe of the Lenape, also known as the Delaware Indians. The land was known as the Lenapehoking. The Dutch claimed the land as New Netherlands, then the British as the Province of New Jersey.
In 1791 Alexander Hamilton (1755/57–1804), first United States Secretary of the Treasury, helped found the Society for Establishing Useful Manufactures (S.U.M.), which helped encourage the harnessing of energy from the Great Falls of the Passaic River to secure economic independence from British manufacturers. The society founded Paterson, which became the cradle of the industrial revolution in America. Paterson was named for William Paterson, statesman, signer of the Constitution and Governor of New Jersey, who signed the 1792 charter that established the Town of Paterson.
Architect, engineer and city planner Pierre (Peter) Charles L'Enfant (1754–1825), who had earlier developed the initial plans for Washington, D.C., was the first planner for the S.U.M. project. His plan proposed to harness the power of the Great Falls through a channel in the rock and an aqueduct.