By Kathy Norton
Most residents of the city are aware that Paterson was once known as "The Silk City of the World", but few may understand what led it to be called such. After all isn't China the mass producer of that rich fabric? How does our town fit the pattern?
Long, long time ago about 3,ooo years B.C. by the Yellow River a young oriental Empress sat drinking her afternoon tea. At that very moment she was introduced to a strange phenomenon called the cocoon. The young pupa was being toyed with by her.
She accidently dropped it into her steaming tea and noticed a fine filament unravel in her drink. Silk emerged and was selfishly hid from the remainder of the world.
When the secret was finally out traveling monks hid silkworm eggs in bamboo canes and transported them to the West. The European now was able to manufacture silk.
John Ryle, an England immigrant, traveled to Paterson, New Jersey, and became known as "Father of the United States Silk Industry."
He came here to assess the potential for silk making. Ryle collaborated with George Murray a contemplator of manufacturing silk.
Murray later turned the business over to Ryle. Ryle gained further knowledge by traveling to other European countries.
Though the business was successful, in 1869, the Murray Mill was destroyed by a costly fire.
In 1870, the Ryle Silk Manufacturing Company rose again and spread to Allentown Pennsylvania where weaving became prevalent.
The Paterson women played a major role in the industry using looms to spin silk. They endured long working hours.
Paterson later transitioned from silk to firearms and eventually locomotives.
Those early manufacturing trends served to populate the town of Paterson with 17, 014,37 residents. Truly proof silk unraveled into a city!