1884, looking east 1

The 12th Street Dam was constructed in 1868-1869 and financed in part by then-mayor Samuel Merritt using his own funds. It was the first step in turning an arm of San Antonio Slough into Lake Merritt.

1869 map excerpt

1868: Plans made for a dam to create "Lake Merritt"; 5 construction begins

1869: Dam completed north of the 12th Street bridge, creating the lake. Mayor Merritt’s annual message dedicates the “arm of San Antonio Creek” as a public lake

1874: Merritt, Newton, and Spaulding cede 12th Street dam rights to the City

1876: 12th Street Dam widened and used as thoroughfare

1891: At the urging of Mayor Melvin Chapman, the Oakland Waterfront Company, which was controlled by the Central Pacific Railroad and Southern Pacific Railroad, “gives” the lake to Oakland in exchange for a promise that the City would spend $30,000 on the roadway over the 12th Street Dam. 4

1915: Lake dredging completed and the 12th Street Dam is raised, widened, and paved

Links and References

  1. 12th St. Dam in 1884, looking east from Oak St. Knowland Neg. 209 Oakland History Center
  2. Our Real Estate Article San Francisco Chronicle January 31, 1869
  3. Suburban Intelligence San Francisco Examiner July 17, 1868
  4. M.C. Chapman Lauded at Public Fete Oakland Tribune September 6, 1930
  5. The Real Estate Market San Francisco Chronicle May 5, 1868