The Patterson Park Boat Lake was created during grading operations in 1864 when extensive earth-moving work was performed to remove military emplacements and to fill ravines.
When residents began using the lake as a skating pond in 1865, the Board of Public Park Commission authorized expansion of the lake to accommodate skating as well as boating. This work, completed in 1875, enlarged the Lake to its present size and included a brick retaining wall, an island, and plantings of trees and shrubs.
A system of trench drains and earthen pipes to convey water to the lake was constructed to eliminate wet areas in the park. Water from the marble fountain at the Lombard Street entrance and numerous springs and seeps were also piped to the lake. By 1884, a boat landing shelter was added. By 1897, the growth of vegetation in the lake was sufficient to preclude boating. In 1984, the Departments of Public Works and Recreation and Parks drained the Boat Lake to remove sediment and deepen the lake.
In 2003, a restoration of the Patterson Park Boat Lake was completed under the direction of the Department of Recreation & Parks. The project included dredging of the lake, environmental signage, and wetland planting. The original brick wall along the Lake’s perimeter, as well as the island, remain. Today, the Lake is a combination of open water and a wetland habitat for fish, waterfowl, and songbirds. The Boat Lake is enjoyed by many for fishing, wildlife viewing, and educational programming.