For Mitchell, 36, of Columbia, who attended Barclay in the 1980s, the gala held special meaning as well.

"This is a community I grew up in and spent a lot of time in and still feel; very connected to," said Mitchell, who played in the community space as a child. On June 18, her own children were running around in the open space during the gala.

"It's great to see my kids play in the same place I did," said Mitchell, director of the Maryland Out of School Time Network, which promotes funding for after-school activities for children statewide.

Her mom, Robinson, who wore 1960s garb, including a tie-dye shirt and a headband, has lived in Abell since 1969 and is something of a community historian. She can tell you that:

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• Abell was named for the founder of the Baltimore Sun, A.S Abell, who lived in nearby Guilford;

• that the first homes were built in 1911, on Abell Avenue;

• that in 1913, a man infamously murdered his sister-in-law as his wife and young son watched;

• that Baltimore's first Gay Pride parade was held on 31st Street;

• that a journal of women's liberation was published "up the street" in 1969, a time when Abell was home to many antiwar protesters and liberals, including Robinson.

But the neighborhood hasn't changed that much, said 71-year resident Bob Richmond, 80, who remembers when the street lamps were gas, the trees were sycamores and streetcars ran on 31st Street.

Today, residents extol the virtues of a diversified neighborhood with families, artists, young professionals, retirees and Johns Hopkins University students.

"We have a lot of small children, which is nice," said Friedrun Sullivan, 72, a retired language professor atAnne Arundel Community College.

The gala meant different things to different people.

"One hundred years — who cares? But it's just an opportunity (for the residents) to get together," Sullivan said.

"And it means you don't have to write off neighborhoods," said 17-year resident Jennifer D'Urso, who called herself "a newcomer" to Abell. "It's as vibrant as it was in 1911," said D'Urso, who works for Hopkins Press.

Sullivan said there was only one thing missing from the celebration of Abell's centennial — a centenarian.

"We need a 100-year-old," she said.