Lake Merritt was once part of the greater San Francisco Bay. It became the city sewer for Oakland in 1852, after the removal of the Ohlone native people. Because of its chemical makeup and high acidity, Lake Merritt was seen as a perfect sewage site. In 1868, Oakland mayor Samuel Merritt ordered that a dam be built, separating the reservoir from the Bay and transforming the former sewage plant into what is now called "The Jewel of Oakland".
Art at Lake Merritt
All over Oakland and along the lake are colorful mosaic trash cans. The project was started in 2010 in Allendale Park and has swept across the city through a collaborative effort of volunteer artists and backed by the Keep Oakland Beautiful organization.
Under Lake Merritt Bridge is the 10-panel light installation, Undercurrent. Undercurrent was backed by Measure DD and was installed in 2002 by a team of Oakland artists.