Now and then, a bit of original New York topography peeks through the concrete, bricks and glass. Oakland Lane, at 46th Avenue and Cloverdale Boulevard in Bayside, is a piece of Long Island’s original appearance that has been carefully curated to make sure it stays that way.
Oakland Lake is the largest of a number of small “kettle ponds” left over from the passage of a glacier that stopped its southern progress in the middle of Long Island 15,000 years ago (Potomageton Pond is another.) According to the NYC Parks Department, it was once thought to be fully 600 feet deep, but the lake bottom was found to be just 20 feet in 1969 — still nothing to croak at.
Similar to what was done with Kissena Lake, Oakland Lake was surrounded with a concrete lining and “citified” in the 1930s. After lean years in which the lake’s condition deteriorated, a revitalization effort was spearheaded by local resident Gertrude Waldeyer, whose Oakland Lake and Ravine Conservation Committee raised $1 million to restore the lake to its natural state. It is now home to catfish, sunfish and carp. Oakland Lake has taken its place, along with other Alley Pond “lakes” such as Turtle Pond, Decodon Pond, Lily Pad Pond and Muskrat Pond as small glimpses of real wetland in the big city.
The south end of the lake used to be occupied by the Oakland Golf Club, territory now occupied by Queensborough Community College, established in 1959, and Benjamin Cardozo High School (1967).