The Great Falls of the Passaic River in Paterson are the second-highest large-volume falls on the East Coast: only Niagara Falls are higher. Alexander Hamilton helped encourage the harnessing of the energy of the Great Falls to secure the independence from British manufacturers, and Paterson became the cradle of the industrial revolution in America. Paterson was named for William Paterson, New Jersey governor, statesman, and signer of the Constitution.
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According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 22.6 km² (8.7 mi²). 21.9 km² (8.4 mi²) of it is land and 0.8 km² (0.3 mi²) of it is water. The total area is 3.32% water.
As of the census of 2000, there are 149,222 people, 44,710 households, and 33,353 families residing in the city. The population density is 6,826.4/km² (17,675.4/mi²). There are 47,169 housing units at an average density of 2,157.8/km² (5,587.2/mi²). The racial makeup of the city is 30.77% White, 32.90% African American, 0.60% Native American, 1.90% Asian, 0.06% Pacific Islander, 27.60% from other races, and 6.17% from two or more races. 50.11% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There are 44,710 households out of which 40.9% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 39.4% are married couples living together, 26.8% have a female householder with no husband present, and 25.4% are non-families. 20.4% of all households are made up of individuals and 7.9% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 3.25 and the average family size is 3.71.
In the city the population is spread out with 29.8% under the age of 18, 11.2% from 18 to 24, 32.0% from 25 to 44, 18.7% from 45 to 64, and 8.3% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 30 years. For every 100 females there are 94.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 91.1 males.
The median income for a household in the city is $32,778, and the median income for a family is $35,420. Males have a median income of $27,911 versus $22,733 for females. The per capita income for the city is $13,257. 22.2% of the population and 19.2% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total people living in poverty, 29.0% are under the age of 18 and 19.1% are 65 or older.