The city originated from a Dutch settlement on the Passaic River established in 1679 which was called Acquackanonk. Industrial growth began in the 19th century, as Passaic became a textile and metalworking center. Passaic was formed within Acquackanonk Township on March 10, 1869, and was incorporated as an independent village on March 21, 1871. Passaic was chartered as a city on April 2, 1873.
The 1926 Passaic Textile Strike led by union organizer Albert Weisbord saw 36,000 mill workers leave their jobs to oppose wage cuts demanded by the textile industry. The workers successfully fought to keep their wages unchanged but did not receive recognition of their union by the mill owners.
Passaic has been called "The Birthplace of Television". In 1931, experimental television station W2XCD began transmitting from DeForest Radio Corporation in Passaic. It has been called the first television station to transmit to the home, and was the first such station to broadcast a feature film. Allen B. DuMont, formerly DeForest's chief engineer, opened pioneering TV manufacturer DuMont Laboratories in Passaic in 1937, and started the DuMont Television Network, the world's first commercial television network, in 1946. The Okonite company began manufacturing electrical cable here in 1888, with early uses of the company's insulated wires including some of the earliest telegraph cables and the wiring for Thomas Edison's Pearl Street Station in Lower Manhattan.
In 1992, the voters of Passaic Township in Morris County voted to change the name of their municipality to Long Hill Township, to avoid confusion between the City of Passaic and the largely rural community 22 miles (35 km) away, as well as association with the more urban city.
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