Significant dates in William Donald Schaefer's half-century in politics:

1950: Schaefer, a graduate of the University of Baltimore law school, opens downtown practice. Runs unsuccessfully for the House of Delegates from West Baltimore.

1954: Fails again to win seat in House of Delegates.

1955: Wins campaign for Baltimore City Council.

1967: Runs citywide and is elected City Council president, serving with Mayor Thomas J. D'Alesandro III.

1968: Helps direct National Guard to quell riots after the killing of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

1971: Wins Democratic primary for mayor with 56 percent of vote against three candidates, easily wins general election.

1975: Re-elected mayor with slogan "Mayor Schaefer — Worth Repeating."

1978: Defeats opponents of Harborplace in a referendum.

1979: Baltimore Convention Center opens. Elected to third term.

1980: Harborplace opens to rave reviews.

January 1981: Declares that National Aquarium construction is progressing well. If it doesn't open on time, he says, he'll "jump in the tank."

March 1981: With President Ronald Reagan cutting federal budget, Schaefer goes to Washington to plead for aid. When legislators don't respond sympathetically, Schaefer says, "I'm so angry I can't see."

1981: Calls in business executives and persuades them to begin "Blue Chip-In," a program that raises $400,000 privately in its first year to fill gaps caused by federal budget cuts.

July 1981: Before television cameras, Schaefer — dressed in old-time bathing costume and carrying an inflatable duck — steps into National Aquarium's seal pool.

1982: Columnist George Will writes: "Schaefer embodies his community more completely than even Richard Daley or Fiorello La Guardia embodied Chicago and New York."

1983: Re-elected mayor in general election, winning 93 percent of vote.

1984: Esquire magazine cover story calls Schaefer "the best mayor in America," but staffers are chagrined to find that the article depicts him as a noodge who patrols alleys for trash.

1984: Baltimore Metro opens.