Snow Park is a small grassy plot of land adjacent to Lake Merritt in Oakland’s Lakeside District, whose tranquil, pastoral appearance belies the multifarious uses to which it has been put over the years.
It originally included part of old Oakland’s second cemetery (mostly emptied, they say, after 1863, once Mountain View got going). Later, the area held a mansion which, after decades as a private home, became the Snow Museum which eventually came to include a small zoo.
After all structures were razed in the late 1960s (check if this was due to fire) and a development scheme duly rejected, the property was then groomed into its current park-like form. Until roughly the 1980s, the Lake-facing side maintained a putting green, and passersby would be struck by the oddly incongruous, yet almost poetic sight of intently concentrating golfers caught up in their own worlds, seeing eternity in a wild flower right there in downtown, as vehicular traffic whizzed by only a few feet away (there were far fewer stoplights then).
The putting green was eventually pooped into oblivion by our honking friends.
More recently, Snow Park was the suburban overflow home of Occupy Oakland.
Snow Park was being discussed as the new location of a dog park in 2013 in the hopes of quelling the Astro Dog Park controversy. The site was dismissed for an unknown reason.
Because of the changes in the dogs-in-parks law in April, 2014, dogs are now allowed on-leash in this park.
Snow Park was the recipient of the East Bay Express write-in category of Best Place to Have Sex in Public Readers' Poll Award in 2014.
Since 2012, Snow Park has been the staging and celebration venue for the annual Oakland Running Festival including the Oakland Marathon, with the start/finish line at 19th St. x Harrison St. For its first two years (2010-11) the venue was City Hall Plaza, but the event outgrew that space.