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401 Grand St. Paterson, NJ 07505 | 973-881-4000
"Rich History, Bright Future"

Lambert Tower

Kelly Ruffel
Director of Cultural and Historic Affairs
973-706-6640
kellyr@passaiccountynj.org
tower banner image

Located in Garret Mountain Reservation, the 70 ft. tall Lambert Tower was built in 1896 by Catholina Lambert. Along with Lambert Castle, the structure was built reminiscent of the castles in Great Britain were Catholina Lambert spent his childhood. After Lambert died, Passaic County bought his mansion, the tower and 164 acres of land on Garret Mountain and opened Passaic County's first park. The tower was open to visitors throughout the 1930s but was used by the military as a lookout for enemy aircraft during World War II.

In 2014, thanks to a partnership between Passaic County and the Green Acres Program, the Lambert Tower observation deck re-opened to the public and visitors are once again able to enjoy spectacular views of New York from Bear Mountain to the North, along the New York City skyline, and all the way south to Sandy Hook, NJ.

For more information about visiting Lambert Tower, and inquiries about special events, please contact the Department of Cultural & Historic Affairs at 973-706-6640. 

Letter from the Passaic County Historian on Lambert Tower

It was early 1929 when the Passaic County Park Commission proceeded with the structure's first major overhaul, including masonry repointing, repairs on the interior, and repairs to the deteriorated iron stairs and risers. The latter was carried out under contract by the DeJong Ironworks of Paterson. The second snapshot was taken about a year later, showing the finished work. Lambert's fortress looking dome was replaced by the bulbous structure in the photo. At some point, the substituted dome vanished (perhaps, as the story goes, stolen for its scrap metal value), and was replaced by a crudely designed, cobbled together wooden monitor.

I made an intensive study of the tower preparatory to its restoration, with the reconstruction of Lambert's original dome (not in the original copper because of the excessive cost), a desirable, defining architectural feature. My ambition was to prepare an illustrated documented account of the tower's history from the time of its construction, in 1896, to the restoration. Pat DiIanni of Vision 20/20 told me his group would fund the publication. DiIanni had a boyhood affection for the spot. As he related, it was where he and his friends could release energies and pretend they were "kings of the mountain." Alas, his publication offer turned out to be hollow. I thought the county might fund it as a park monograph, but that went absolutely nowhere. In fact, my request was treated with amusement. I'll eventually find a non-governmental source to publish it.

lambert post card
The tower is laden with tales, this well-crafted stone sentinel overlooking Paterson. It has withstood battering from all kinds of weather, but glorious sunrises and sunsets too have streaked across its walls, the latter particularly impressive as the city's lights flash on at dusk. My intensive research uncovered interesting happenings. Here's a smattering off the top of my head. Catholina Lambert was upset to learn that the body of a young man had been discovered at the base of the structure. It turned out the lovelorn youth was distraught and committed suicide. The tower was once used for wireless telegraphy experiments by an associate of Thomas A. Edison. During WW II, it was pressed into service as an observation post. Air "spotters" manned the place, where they spent time scanning the immediate vicinity and beyond, on alert for suspicious or enemy aircraft. (The idea for having the spotters at the ready was not so far fetched. Late in the war, the German Reich's Luftwaffe had perfected jet aircraft prototypes. If put into production, the planes were capable of reaching New York.)

By the mid-to-late 1960s, the structure was riddled with unchecked deterioration, but that didn't stop the park commission's eager-beaver police chief from festooning the tower with an array of communication cables and aerials. The tower looked frightful, even forbidding. In those years, on a storm-tossed icy night, it could have been used as the locale for a B-grade horror flick. About 1971,  the wounded tower was considered unsafe for public visitation. Even the Olmsted designed wooden pergola linking the tower with an ancillary restroom/refreshment building had gone to wrack and ruin. The tower's iron door was padlocked. More or less forgotten, the site slipped into a decade's long coma. The restoration resuscitated it.

Long ago, this impressive stone landmark, eternally thrusting toward the heavens, became inseparable with Garret Mountain Reservation's lore and legends. Restoring it was quite a coordinated challenge.

Lambert Tower Lighting Schedule 

lambert tower lights
In 2014, LAN Associates provided Lambert's Tower with color changing LED lights which make the tower visible to the City of Paterson at night. The lighting scheme at Lambert Tower is modified during certain holidays.


2018 Lighting Schedule: 
  • Jul 17, 2015 Green in honor of Eid al-Fitr.
  • Jul 04, 2015 Red, white and blue in honor of Independence Day.
  • May 25, 2015 Red, white and blue in celebration of Memorial Day.
  • May 24, 2015 Red, white and blue in celebration of Memorial Day.
  • May 23, 2015 Red, white and blue in celebration of Memorial Day.
  • May 22, 2015 Red, white and blue in celebration of Memorial Day.
  • Mar 17, 2015 Green in celebration of St. Patrick's Day.
  • Jan 03, 2015 Red and green in celebration of Christmas.
  • Jan 02, 2015 Red and green in celebration of Christmas.
  • Jan 01, 2015 Red and green in celebration of Christmas.
  • Dec 30, 2014 Red and green in celebration of Christmas.
  • Dec 29, 2014 Red and green in celebration of Christmas.
  • Dec 28, 2014 Red and green in celebration of Christmas.
  • Dec 25, 2014 Red and green in celebration of Christmas.
  • Dec 22, 2014 Blue and white in honor of Chanukah
  • Dec 21, 2014 Blue and white in honor of Chanukah
  • Dec 20, 2014 Blue and white in honor of Chanukah
  • Dec 19, 2014 Blue and white in honor of Chanukah.
  • Dec 18, 2014 Blue and white in honor of Chanukah.
  • Dec 17, 2014 Blue and white in honor of Chanukah.
  • Dec 16, 2014 Blue and white in honor of Chanukah.
  • Oct 01, 2014 Pink in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness