NJ Town Votes For New Identity : Vox Politics NJ Town Votes For New Identity
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NJ Town Votes For New Identity

Where would you rather live, West Paterson or Woodland Park?

Voters of West Paterson, NJ, voted yesterday -- not with their feet, but at the ballot box. They're changing the name of the town.

A quick lesson in history and geography: Paterson, NJ, is old, industrial and grim. Alexander Hamilton helped establish it as the nation's first center of manufacturing. It's birthed the Colt revolver, more steam locomotives than you could count, acres of silk fabric, the poetry of William Carlos Williams and bloody labor strikes. Since World War II, Paterson has been defined by poverty, crime, drugs -- and its opportunities for immigrants to get a toehold in America. It's where boxer Hurricane Carter was busted and tried for murder.

And West Paterson? It's the middle-class suburb across the highway and up the hill from the city.

You see the logic here. And in fact, West Paterson is slow in making the move. It was 1972 when East Paterson changed its name to Elmwood Park.

Word then was that they wanted the new name to keep the E-P initials, an economy move to save money re-doing the borough's logo on police cars and stationery.