History / Inspiration
Lake Merritt is today a very different shape than in the past. What is now a thin branch of water winding between the lake and the Bay was once a marsh where Oaklanders hunted waterfowl. A decision was made in the 1860's to dam the slough. The newly shaped lake was initially called Lake Peralta, after the original Spanish landowners, but people began calling it Merritt's Lake, because future mayor Samuel Merritt had put up the money to dredge the lake. A bridge was built at 12th Street — before its construction, there was actually a toll bridge across the marsh!
A "necklace of lights" encircles Lake Merritt. Featuring 126 lampposts and 3,400 pearly bulbs, the necklace was first lit in 1925. In 1941, the lights were dismantled to comply with World War II blackout conditions. After a decade-long campaign and major civic fundraising effort, the lights were again illuminated in 1985.
About the designer
This product is designed by Oaklandish. Everyone we work with is involved in creating artwork, choosing colors, or selecting fabrics. It's a detailed process that doesn't end until the shirts are folded and ready to represent Oakland.