Patterson Park: Baltimore’s Best Backyard!
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Geology & Soils

The history of Patterson Park has been strongly influenced by its geology. Part of the Coastal Plain Physiographic Region, the entire site is part of the Arundel Geologic Formation. Much of the Park exists upon the deposits of a historic flood plain and swamp that formed during a previous geologic era. Most of the park is underlain by clay soils with poor drainage. However, the high point of the Park where the Pagoda sits today, is underlain primarily by sandier soils over underlying clay . The eastern section of the main park, which was previously a stream valley and marsh, consists entirely of filled land placed in the nineteenth century that contains ash, debris, and soil. The park annex to the east of Linwood Avenue is a former clay pit.


Historical records of the park indicate there has always been flowing water beneath the surface soils. When rain falls it infiltrates into the soil until it reaches the clay layer. Since clay soils do not allow water to drain, the water collects and flows laterally beneath the surface. Where the clay layer intersects the surface, water will flow out creating a spring. The Boat Lake, which was inadvertently created in the 19th century during a grading operation, is still fed by such a subsurface flow of water. The Park east of Luzerne Avenue was formerly the valley of a navigable stream that drained directed into the Patapsco River. The stream was converted into a bricked culvert in the late 1800s;the 17- foot wide brick tunnel still exists beneath the park, and in the 1970s was augmented with another 16-foot wide culvert called the Lakewood Avenue Storm Drain. For 50 years beginning at the turn of the century, a lake was located here. Today, the former stream valley is no longer discernible.