On July 10, 1778, following the Battle of Monmouth, on route to Paramus, New Jersey, part of the Continental army camped at Paterson. Washington's then secretary, James McHenry, recounts how he, Washington, Lafayette and Alexander Hamilton made their way to the falls and had lunch. As McHenry later related, "with the assistance of a little spirit we composed some excellent grog. Then we chatted away a very cheerful half hour--and then took our leave of the . . . meek falls of Pasaic [sic]--less noisy and boisterous than those of Niagara, or the more gentle Cohoes or the waters of the Mohawk."
Hamilton, impressed with the industrial potential of the falls and the area, later formed the Society for Establishing Useful Manufactures in 1791 as a forerunner of today's public-private partnership. A statute of Hamilton looking towards the Falls is seen here.