Paterson and Its People

2017FEstivalWinnersHomeBox    rgff-laurels-master-2016_Official Selection   GDIFF 2016 Laurels Black

      This PBS documentary explores the city’s changing demographics from its pre-European history as the locale of the Lenape to its present-day diversity. In spanning the centuries, this program features the diversity of ethnic and racial groups that have populated the city. It begins thousands of years ago when native Lenape Indians populated the area and continues on through the early northern and western European immigrants, then the southern and eastern European immigrants, and on to the more recent Hispanic, Arab, and Muslim populations.

The film highlights some of Paterson’s famous residents and visitors, but focuses mainly on the ordinary people who lived and worked in the city and contributed to its social fabric. Through interviews, historic photos and on-location footage throughout the city, the story of Paterson’s evolution through demographic changes comes alive.

“I was riveted…loved every minute of it. I may watch it again…it was that good.” ~ Pat Kirwin Henderson

“I highly recommend….You will not be disappointed.” ~ Sammy LiSanti

“It is a wonderful film…the audience members truly enjoyed it.” ~ Janis B. Schwartz

“Informative and fascinating look at Paterson” ~ Nancy Pier Sindt

“So impressed…very informative and well presented…a real tribute to a great city” ~ Sharon Battaglino

“Brilliant! A crisp, focused and moving tribute to the old town” ~ Peter J. Art

DVDs available in gift shops at Paterson Falls National Historic Park and Lambert Castle, Paterson, NJ

See newspaper story about the film in the Paterson Times

11 thoughts on “Paterson and Its People

  1. Hello Dr. Parrillo,

    I am a sociolgy, history and public policy teacher in NJ as well as the child of Patersonians on both sides of my family. I read about your latest documentary titled Paterson and it’s People in the newspaper and I am very interested in purchasing a copy. Is there a way I can order one online or through WPU or yourself?

    1. Thanks for your interest in my film. If you’ll send me a $20 check to my office (Department of Sociology, William Paterson University, Wayne, NJ 07470), I’ll be happy to send a DVD to you.

      Best wishes,
      Vince Parrillo

  2. Hello — I am also interested in purchasing a copy. My family’s Paterson roots run deep. I currently live out of state. May I send you a $20 check to you at your office address above?
    Thank you.

  3. Dr. Parrillo, congratulations on your award winning film. My name is Michael E Taylor. I am a native Patersonian 68 years old. I am also an alumni of William Paterson University. I am also the access coordinator for Paterson’s public access channel. I have shown your film “Smoke Stacks and Steeples” during tv production courses. I also promote that film to anyone who really wants to know about Paterson’s glorious history. I would like to purchase your new DVD. I would also respectfully request your permission to show the DVD in a non-commercial manor to those Patersonians who may never get to see the film. I know this email is long but lastly I’d like to someday speak with you about a film featuring the history of Afro-Americans in Paterson. I have spoken to my friend Passaic County historian Edward Smyk about resources and he is willing to assist in the research. Thank you and again congratulations.

    1. Michael, thank you for your kind words. DVDs of “Paterson and Its People,” as well as my earlier films, “Gaetano Federici: The Sculptor Laureate of Paterson” and “Smokestacks and Steeples: A Portrait of Paterson,” are available for purchase at the gift shops at the Paterson Falls and Lambert Castle. As with my reply to Patricia (below), you could also purchase of copy from me if that is more convenient. I would need more details about your request to show the DVD to Patersonians. Please email me ( with more specifics. Information and visuals about African Americans in Paterson are limited, but in “Paterson and Its People” you will see some time devoted to them. I would be interested in your reaction to those segments.

  4. Hello Dr. Parrillo, I will be picking up copy of the DVD as well at the Gift shop. Your future project about artists and musicians from Paterson sounds very interesting in that my father Harold E. Foster pianist with the Silk City Band around 1936. He won 1st place at the Apollo theater Amateur Night at the Apollo. 16 years of age student at Paterson Central High. I have small article that was printed in local newspaper at that time but not much more known about the event.
    Ron Foster

  5. I’ll get copy from my sister. I believe I graduated from Central High with one of your relatives. I also played football with him (Doug) ?
    Anyway…I have a lot of material on my Aunt who also lived in Paterson in the late 40s early 50s who owned a Jazz club in Paris (Ringside which became the Bluenote in 1958) with her Husband that many of the renowned artists and entertainers of that period visited such as Billie Holliday, Sarah Vaughan, Thelonious Monk, Eartha Kitt, Lionel Hampton, and many others. Movie stars such as Brigett Bardot, Errol Flynn, Jane Russell, and Doris Duke of Southern tobacco empire. My aunt is in the photos with most of the entertainers in this social setting.

    1. Hello, Heather. Thanks for your interest. DVDs are available for all the PBS Paterson documentaries. Please email me ( and I will give you the specifics on how to get a copy.

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