Before it was known as a park, the site of Patterson Park played a major role in the War of 1812, serving as the grounds where American troops stood ready during the decisive battle of North Point at "Hampstead Hill," the promontory in the park where the Pagoda is situated. In 1827, Patterson Park began life as a park with six acres of land donated by William Patterson, a wealthy shipping merchant, who hoped to create a "public walk," thus becoming the oldest park in Baltimore and the first gift of land given to a city for the purposes of public recreation. In 1860, the park was expanded and served as an Army hospital (Camp Patterson Park, 1862) and camp for Union soldiers during the Civil War (Camp Washburn).
Following the war, additional expansions occurred in 1873, 1883, 1907 and 1913 (an expansion based on the recommendation of the Olmsted Brothers) to result in the 55-acre footprint of the park known today. In the 19th century, Patterson Park was characteristic of a romantic landscape with curvilinear paths that move through a pastoral setting of trees, fountains, pavilions, a mansion, two lakes and other examples of park architecture. The pagoda (1891), now an East Baltimore icon, was designed by Charles H. Latrobe and reflects Baltimoreans' fascination with the Orient, as well as William Patterson's link to the silk trade in Canton, China.
Many of the other architectural elements in the park were designed by Latrobe and Frederick, including the Casino--(the word referring to a building for refreshment, at that time). During the 20th century, a variety of active and organized athletics were given an increased priority, greatly contributing to how the park is experienced by visitors today. The Olmsted Brothers designed a revision to the eastern section of the park—adapting it for active recreation—and some forms of their design still exist.
Today, Patterson Park is frequented by neighborhood schools and churches for its athletic fields and is home to one of the two ice rinks available in the city. Two important architectural features of the Park included the boat house (1864, now extinct) and the pagoda (1891). Other architecture in the park reflected a number of styles, including Italian Villa, Gothic Revival, Exotic Revival and Romanesqe Revival that were designed to create an “eclectic” scene of images that would free visitors from the stresses of urban life.
Patterson remains most significant in that it is Baltimore's most intensively used large park and remains an outstanding example of 19th century park design. The site is surrounded by extensive rowhouse neighborhoods that rely solely on this park for open space.
The Friends of Patterson Park is an active community group that supports the park through fundraising, work and clean-up projects, and advocacy of the Patterson Park master plan, completed in 1998.
• Playground (2)
• Basketball court (5)
• Tennis court (10)
• Ballfield (9)
• Athletic Field (9)
• Patterson Park Swimming Pool
• Wading/kiddie Pool
• Patterson Park Boat Lake
• Virginia Baker Recreation Center
• Picnic Pavilion (2)
• Dominic “Mimi” DiPietro Ice Rink
• Patterson Park City Farms Garden
• Patterson Park Audubon Center
• City Commission on Aging—Adult Daycare Center
In Proximity to. . .
• Hampstead Hill Elementary School
• Patterson Park Public Charter School
• Highlandtown, Canton, and Fells Point neighborhoods