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Collection Working in Paterson: Occupational Heritage in an Urban Setting

Neighborhood

As both a structure and an inhabited space, Watson Machine occupies a significant position within its Railroad Avenue neighborhood. To the west, it attaches an industrial presence to the downtown core and the city and federal buildings that occupy that space; to the east, the vibrant 21st Avenue area and the old but still active Joseph Teshon, Inc., textile mill link Watson Machine to, respectively, an emergent Hispanic neighborhood and an important vestige of the city's industrial past. In the direction of Grand Avenue, Watson Machine is surrounded by textile plants, though the raised bed of the railroad impedes direct access to them. From the viewpoint of the workers at Watson Machine, the plant's location is a liability. They consider the neighborhood to be fairly rough, and although Watson Machine does not run shifts at night, many workers have stories of the urban crime and violence that they have experienced on their way to or from work.

Exterior view of Watson Machine International viewed from the corner of Grand Street and Railroad Avenue.
Watson Machine building from Dale Street side.

Workers who live outside Paterson, especially former residents of the city, have a nostalgic yet negative view of Paterson. Those old enough to remember the city's halcyon days recall its fine shops and restaurants; younger workers relate similar reminiscences they have heard from their parents or grandparents. Whether young or old, it is probably fair to say, the workers do not view Paterson as an appealing urban center that compels them to remain after work during the week or to visit on weekends. They have virtually no interaction with the neighborhood immediately surrounding Watson Machine, and they pride themselves on the speed and efficiency with which they can enter and exit the city.

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