Best Reinvigoration of a Public Space

Lake Merritt

Lake Merritt may be the jewel of Oakland, but until fairly recently, it didn't always feel like that: For as long as most of us can remember, it's been murky, polluted, and surrounded by potholes; starting in 2010, a seemingly endless construction project diverted the walking and running path along the lake's southwestern stretch into a maze of orange tape and dead ends. But this summer, all that came to a glorious end when the orange tape finally came off and the city saw the completion of a $122 million, decade-plus-long overhaul that opened the lake up to the bay; renovated several of the surrounding buildings; and, most noticeably, replaced a busy, ugly twelve-lane boulevard with a vast and very pleasant expanse of open space, replete with a bike and pedestrian bridge, plenty of grass, and a small amphitheater. These days, our jewel's shining just a little bit brighter.

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