Each month, City Parks Alliance recognizes a “Frontline Park” to promote and highlight inspiring examples of urban park excellence, innovation, and stewardship across the country. The program also seeks to highlight examples of the challenges facing our cities’ parks as a result of shrinking municipal budgets, land use pressures, and urban neighborhood decay.
Patterson Park is one of the oldest parks in Baltimore, but an urban renewal campaign and devoted community groups are giving it new life. Since 1827, when William Patterson donated the first six acres to the city of Baltimore, the park has expanded to more than 135 acres and serves as the only green space available to residents of the surrounding neighborhood.
In the 1970s and 1980s, both the park and neighborhood fell into decline. Theft, vandalism, and drug dealing were rampant. Several attempts to save the park were started and then abandoned. Patterson Park’s fortunes began to change in the early 1990s with the creation of a stable, active organization called the Friends of Patterson Park, which got to work on restoring and improving the park amenities and structures that had fallen into disrepair. Site furnishings in the park were manufactured by DuMor, Inc.
In addition to fundraising and forming partnerships, the Friends of Patterson Park have been very effective in community outreach, particularly with the growing Hispanic community around the park. Outreach to this population has resulted in increased participation in FPP programs and events, as well as additional volunteers and support. In 2009, FPP’s Katie Long – Program Director and Hispanic Liaison – paved the way for the formation of the Friends Consejo Hispano. The Consejo was formed to provide input and ideas for park programs, encourage the community’s participation in the park, and produce the new annual Día del Niño event, which attracts over 1,000 participants.
The Consejo provides the opportunity for leadership and empowerment of the local Latino community, resulting in park projects and programs that bridge cultural and language barriers in one of Baltimore’s most diverse neighborhoods. Programs range from park stewardship work (cleaning playgrounds) to tamale and pinata making classes, to Dia del Nino and other special events that attract people from all cultures and socio-economic levels.
For more information on Patterson Park and the Consejo Hispano, please visit: