So you think you know Lake Merritt?

||Test your knowledge of Oakland's Lake Merritt with this interactive that uses historic photos of the lake that date back to the early 1900s.

Oakland’s Lake Merritt now serves as a sanctuary for ducks, the backdrop for memorable family photos, and an oasis for couples scavenging for the perfect picnic spot. But did you know that 143 years ago, the lake was nothing more than a marshland serving as a sewage system? Before former mayor Samuel Merritt built the 12th Street dam, the lake was more of a nuisance than a crown jewel.

This interactive tests your knowledge on the history of Lake Merritt—from the purpose of the saltwater pump (that’s no longer in use) to the wildlife found at the lake. See if you’re an Oaklander who knows the roots of one of the city’s most prized landmarks.


  1. stu

    There was a day when it must have been nice to spend a day in the area. These days it’s just a nice backdrop for drug selling.

  2. annalee allen

    interesting historic photos, thanks for sharing. however, I did see one mistake. the lake pump house, later municipal boathouse, is no longer used as offices for Parks & Recreation Department staff. Those workers were transferred to Ogawa Plaza, and the building was renovated to become the Lake Chalet Restaurant (using Measure DD funds).
    Annalee Allen

  3. Mayor of Maxwell Park

    Everything can change on a New Year’s Day. The day has come back around that it is once more nice to spend a day in the area.

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