Next year will mark the 100th anniversary of the Pagoda, the 60-foot octagonal observatory tower standing near the highest point of Patterson Park. Fitting preparations are being made for the centennial: the whole neighborhood is pulling together to restore the landmark.
Patterson Park is one of those urban oases that is taken for granted.
Before air-conditioning, it was a place where whole families would spend the night on sweltering summer evening, hoping to catch some catnaps under the stars. Many of those who visit it these days usually see just a portion of the 128-acre park. A typical example was this year's Polish Festival, which drew thousands of people but only to a small area near the monument honoring Tadeuz Kosciuszko, Poland's national hero. Yet Patterson Park is full of surprises. It even has a duck pond.
The Pagoda overlooks the harbor and contains the original earthworks thrown up in 1814 by citizen volunteers at the time of British bombardment of Fort McHenry. It is difficult to imagine that the park board and Mayor Theodore R. McKeldin were serious in 1964 when they threatened to tear the tower down unless it was renovated. Whether the threat was serious or not, enough money was found for extensive repairs.