McGrath: The Negro Leagues’ forgotten cathedral

From Garrett McGrath at on October 2, 2013:

Hinchliffe Stadium sits on a bluff above the Great Falls, the second largest waterfall east of the Mississippi River in volume. The land was once a graveyard, making it off-limits for development until the city passed a bill in 1916 that allowed abandoned cemeteries to be repurposed into playgrounds and recreational facilities. Mayor John W. Hinchliffe appointed a Paterson Stadium Association in 1930 that, after local Republicans opposed construction on a more expensive location, picked the neglected graveyard under the high point of the city, Monument Heights.

The year was 1930. Paterson, like the rest of the nation, was struggling with the Great Depression. Hinchliffe stepped in again and pitched the stadium as a recreational facility, not limited to only one sport. The citizens of Paterson agreed and approved a $200,000 bond. When the stadium was still half-finished, 12,000 spectators came out to watch high school football rivals play on Thanksgiving. By the next year’s game, the park was complete: a 10,000-seat stadium made from poured concrete, in a mix of American Mission and Art Deco-styles. The site plan designers were the Olmstead brothers, sons of Central Park designer Frederick Law Olmstead, and the stadium itself was planned by local architects Fanning & Shaw. Even through today’s decay, the austere beauty of the structure shines through.

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Originally published: October 8, 2013. Last Updated: October 8, 2013.