Western Neighborhoods Project

Lake Merced: Guns, Golf, and Grebes

The Western Neighborhoods Project is a nonprofit organization formed in 1999 to preserve and share the history and culture of the neighborhoods in western San Francisco.  In 2016, funds from the Schwemm Family Foundation were awarded to the Project for the “Lake Merced: Guns, Golf, and Grebes” program.  This series of educational programs, which were carried out during the summer of 2017, was made up of history walks, presentations, and a companion webpage/online gallery sharing the natural and cultural history of San Francisco’s Lake Merced from the 1850’s to today.

Since the 1850s, Lake Merced and the land around it has been a site of roadhouses, a famous duel, agricultural use, and recreational activities from skeet shooting to golf to dragon boat racing. Despite encroaching urbanization, watershed changes, fragmentation, and aquifer reduction, the lake remains a unique habitat supporting riparian, dune scrub, and woodland forest natural communities, endemic plants, migrating and local birds, and other animal populations.