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Neighborhood / Campus History

Ecology / Hydrology
The SFSU campus is located immediately adjacent to Lake Merced, the largest freshwater lake and wetland habitat in San Francisco. The northeastern arm of Lake Merced once occupied the lower portion of the SFSU campus.

Lake Merced is part of the former western sand dunes of the San Francisco marine shore. At one time, Lake Merced was part of an estuary open to the Pacific Ocean and subject to tidal action, until a sand bar formed a barrier between the lake and ocean. The creeks that fed the estuary and, later the closed lake, were vital to those ecosystems.

Much can be learned about the plant communities that were part of the historic ecosystems from the remnants that exist today. The specific types of vegetation characteristic of dune scrub, estuary, freshwater wetlands, riparian zones, and upland forest may offer cues to guide sustainable landscape strategies for the campus and its environs.

Map showing ecological and hydrological context

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