The ARTFactory was bustling with activity on a recent October afternoon. Lights, video cameras, cables, and drop-cloths filled the courtyard at the entrance to the post-industrial compound, as a crew prepared to record a television series.

A century ago, the activity might have looked quite different. The courtyard was then part of the Dolphin Manufacturing Company, which was established in 1844 and converted jute and hemp into rope, twine, and carpet backing. It encompassed 17 buildings and was one of the city's largest mills. The 77-foot Great Falls of the Passaic River powered the factory.

A little more than two centuries ago Alexander Hamilton himself might have trod the same grounds, as it was he who formed the investment group, Society of Useful Manufactures, in 1792. The society used its funds to establish a planned industrial city, as Hamilton believed the United States should reduce its dependence on foreign goods.

Just last week, a small group that included two residents of Paterson, the Open Space Coordinator for Passaic County, and a resident of Reading, Pennsylvania gathered at the post-industrial-compound-turned-art-center to brainstorm the possibilities for activating the space and serving the surrounding community. It was an academic exercise intended to challenge attendees to explore creative placemaking strategies using a real-world example.

Though some buildings and spaces on the compound were alive with activity, others were vacant, with exposed brick walls, cables, and a chill in the air. Participants called out ideas for programing the enormous rooms. Wreath-making workshops, holiday bazaars, even ice skating could happen in winter. Spring could bring sunrise yoga, painting, hiking, and a healing garden. Salsa bands could serenade the courtyard on summer nights, and Halloween-themed storytelling events could activate the grounds in autumn.

Workshop participants also discussed who should be included and served in creative placemaking collaborations and the community needs that might be addressed. Creative programing could further the goals of social and environmental justice, local workforce development in the art of historic and architectural preservation, placekeeping, wellness, and quality of life.

For more detailed information, please stay posted to our website, as we will publish a full report on the outcome of the lab. To learn about upcoming educational workshops, please browse our online catalogue.

Aerial View of the Dolphin Manufacturing Company. Courtesy of the Library of Congress

73 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

NCCP to sunset in 2021

To Our Dear Friends and Supporters of NCCP, We know we can speak for so many of us when we say that the past year has been a challenge beyond our wildest imaginations. 2020 left no company exempt fro

Board Chair: Colleen Finnegan Kahl

Founding Director: Leonardo Vazquez, AICP/PP

28 Valley Road

Montclair, NJ 07042


NCCP Logo of gears
  • Facebook - Grey Circle
  • Twitter - Grey Circle
  • YouTube - Grey Circle
  • Instagram - Grey Circle
  • LinkedIn - Grey Circle
COokie Policy

This website uses cookies to identify logged in site members, track user engagement, and for security purposes. The National Consortium of Creative Placemaking will not share your personal information without permission and  does not sell your personal information to any third parties. You may choose to manually clear cookies in your browser settings.