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.