Slough Becomes Lake Merritt
Lake Merritt was a tidal slough, a wet marsh at low tide and a body of
water at high tide. As the city began to grow up around it, it became a
dumping ground for nearly 90% of the city's garbage. High tide wasn't so
bad but low tide turned the area into a smelly eyesore.
In 1869, the energetic Dr. Samuel Merritt used his own money to build a
dam across the mouth of the slough near 12th Street. Flood gates helped
to contain clean salt water in the slough during low tide and create a
lake--Lake Merritt. It should be noted that Merritt's large real estate
holdings at the north end of the lake greatly increased in value once
the marsh became a lake. But streams continued to deposit silt in the
shallow lake, and the residents continued to deposit sewage. By the
1880s, plans had been created for a boulevard around the lake to prevent
it from degenerating into a "miasmatic bog or frogpond." But it was not
until 1907 that a million dollar bond issue was passed to create the
lake and park we know today.
Friends of OPRCA
"Walk Along the Water"
© Oakland Museum of California, used with permission.
Explore this Topic:
Merritt History -
Dr. Samuel Merritt -
of Lake Merritt, ca. 1890s. - Oakland History Room, Oakland Public
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