By Edward Cervantes
Lake Merritt has four main residential areas: the Lakeside Apartments District, in the area around Jackson and Madison Streets; Adams Point/Grand Lake, off Grand Avenue and behind the Grand Lake Theater; Haddon Hill/Cleveland Heights, off Lakeshore Avenue; and the area below 18th Street, on the southeast side of the Lake.
For my first ‘Health of the Hood’ piece, I wrote of 18th Street being a dividing line between a relatively affluent neighborhood and one that seems more depressed.
Since then, I’ve moved from the wealthier side, across the tracks.
Hidden behind the currently abandoned Kaiser Convention Center, the crumbly Oakland Unified School District headquarters, and in stark contrast to the luxurious condominiums at 1200 Lakeshore, blight is more common on this, the sometimes more odorous drain end of the Lake.
But it has been a focus of city funding and redevelopment efforts. Along with the Lake Merritt BART Station Area Plan, work to open the Lake to the Estuary and Bay, and efforts to improve business opportunities along International Boulevard, Eastlake is also the site of the future Oakland Unified School District’s Downtown Educational Complex.
It’s also a space for toxic excavation and removal. Days after moving into the neighborhood, the Department of Toxic Substances Control sent a work notice informing us of the toxic removal that would begin on October 15, 2012.
For two months, I have been fascinated by the machinery and destruction. When home, I bring my camera out with me on every cigarette break so I can snap photos of the ongoing process.