In the past years, plenty of new, widely available options have appeared for experiencing the world from your bedroom. One of those options are livestreams dedicated to different parks across the world- anything from Waterfalls to baby pandas are available to watch for hours at a time a create a great option to begin preparing for when travel has returned to a level of comfortable safety. One of the most tranquil and impressive for the winter months is the Patterson Great Falls national park in New Jersey. I can see myself a few months from now, walking across the bridge, a comfortable breeze in the air as (hopefully) spring rolls in and wipes away the vast snowy expanse visible this weekend. The falls are audible long before I have any chance of seeing them, giving time for anticipation to build as the ancient brick on the factories rolls into view. I would have been following the river for quite a while by then, and a long hike through the old city will finally pay off to see the towering falls- a light spray from the river provides an extra chill. For now, I will simply wrap up at home and hold out with a cup of cocoa and watch will some anticipation.
The park’s livestream goes 24/7 and provides a lovely angle, an old factory sits on the left of the screen, with the falls as a center focus and what appears to be a small city district in this distance. There are little bits of foam in the river which show how the currents circulate before moving out to the Atlantic, and it almost gives a glimpse of what I imagine some of the writers in American history grew up seeing. If you are lucky, you may occasionally see some movement of a passerby or animal through the stream, or have some other bit of a reminder that this is a real place and not a fantasy world photographed and brought to life.
The website boasts some of the major events in American history surrounding the industrial revolutions while retaining the serene views often not associated with massive smokestack factories and brutal conditions which are seen in the time. It creates an image which feels juxtaposed against my understanding of the history around the early 1900’s and puts a beautiful visual next to such a destructive time for so many. Paterson Great Falls boasts itself as the countries first planned city, as well as being the beginning of the labor movement which was essential to the industrial revolution and the manner in which America’s regulations developed and existed for many years afterwards. This included the establishment of S.U.M. or the society for establishing useful manufacturers.
The city also boasts a host of different local restaurants to try with everything from Peruvian and other Latin American cuisine, to Italian and all kinds of others. In particular I was drawn to ‘on the go empanadas,’ as something to add to this list of places to go should I make my way there once it is available. In other nearby parts of the city there are plenty more sights, including a small castle and museum, as well as plenty of walking tours to help experience the city as a whole. The ‘walkable city’ is always important when I plan to travel, and it seems like Patterson NJ perfectly encapsulates as much in its plans.
All in all, the experience of exploring a city virtually was not one I can say I had before now, and while I may not make a dramatic habit of it, it was interesting. It certainly showcases some of the interesting ways online resources allow us to circumvent expenses and difficulties surrounding travel, however it is clearly no great replacement to just actually going. Simply watching a livestream for 30 minutes and trying my hardest to place myself in the shoes of one of the couple people I saw meander by is not exactly something I enjoy, despite the picturesque nature of what I got to watch. The time I spent researching the town was lovely, but not something I plan to repeat, as I don’t consider pretending I am someone else or somewhere else a healthy thing for myself anymore. If anything, that’s why I think the great thing about websites like this is they add a much better source for discovering new areas to add to a bucket list or something of that nature, rather than as a direct replacement. I am excited to at some point hear those falls in the distance while I am the one walking slowly towards the factory smokestacks, however for the time being, I am bundled up in bed and prepping for a trip I don’t know the dates of yet. Take that as you will- exciting or sad- but its where I am for now and I can certainly say this was an experience.