The Architect Who Shaped Paterson, New Jersey, and Its People


For readers especially interested in the Paterson life of Allen Ginsberg and his family, take note of The
Life & Times of Fred Wesley Wentworth: The Architect Who Shaped Paterson, NJ, and Its People by
Richard E. Polton. There is no mention of the Ginsbergs in this architectural history book, but this was
their home, a “red” city that with its waves of immigrants—by 1900 a tremendous influx of Italians and
Eastern European Jews—brought along socialist and anarchist support to the Silk City, built on the
energy of the Great Falls of the Passaic River, its industry and brick mills. Immigrants left behind
persecution and limited economic opportunity. (Allen’s mother Naomi was a Russian-born Jewish
immigrant and Marxist; his father Louis was the son of Russian Jewish immigrants and a socialist. i)
Earlier skilled European silk-mill workers were attracted to Paterson—the third largest city in New Jersey
within close proximity and access to New York City— its jobs and American opportunity. The book
highlights contributions the Jewish community made to Paterson. (Allen graduated from Paterson’s East
Side High School and attended Columbia University on a scholarship given to him by the Young Men’s
Hebrew Association of Paterson.)The Ginsberg family would have been familiar with Wentworth
buildings. The book published by Rutgers University Press contains black-and-white historical photos.

Online Archive of California. Guide to the Allen Ginsberg Papers.

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GK Stritch


GK Stritch is a contributor to Beatdom and the author of CBGB Was My High School. The book is available at the St. Mark's Bookshop, New York City, and and

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