Bakersfield (pop. 323,213GR2) county seat of Kern County, California, USA. It is one of the fastest-growing, large-population cities in the United States. As of 2007, the population was estimated at 323,213 within the city limits, making it the 11th largest city in California and the 58th largest city in the United States according to U.S. Census estimates. The Bakersfield Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) has a population of 780,711, making it the 65th largest metropolitan area in the country. It is California's third largest inland city, after Fresno and Sacramento. The city's economy relies on agriculture, petroleum extraction, and refinement industries. Bakersfield is also the 11th fastest growing city in the United States with a population of over 100,000, and the fastest growing city in the United States with a population of over 250,000.
Downtown Bakersfield with City Hall and Police Headquarters at left and Hall of Records at right
As of the 2000 census,GR2 there were 247,057 people, 83,441 households, and 60,995 families residing in Bakersfield. The population density was 843.4/km² (2,184.4/mi²). There were 88,262 housing units at an average density of 301.3/km² (780.4/mi²).
The racial makeup of the city was 61.87% White, 9.16% Black or African American, 1.40% Native American, 4.33% Asian, 0.12% Pacific Islander, 18.68% from other races, and 4.43% from two or more races. 32.45% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 83,441 households out of which 42.5% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 52.1% were married couples living together, 15.5% were female householders with no husband present, and 26.9% were non-families. 21.5% of households consisted of a single individual; 7.2% were additionally age 65 or older. 42.5% of households claimed children under age 18. The average household size was 2.92, and the average family size was 3.41.
By age, the population was spread out with 32.7% under the age of 18, 10.1% from 18 to 24, 29.9% from 25 to 44, 18.6% from 45 to 64, and 8.8% who were age 65 or older. The median age was 30 years. For every 100 females there were 94.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 90.9 males.
The median income for a household was $39,982, and the median income for a family was $45,556. The median income for males was $38,834, compared to $27,148 for females. The per capita income for the city was $17,678. About 14.6% of families and 18.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 24.4% of those under age 18 and 8.4% of those age 65 or over.
Downtown Bakersfield is bounded by 24th Street to the North, F Street to the West, California Avenue to the South, and Union Avenue to the East. The two main streets of downtown Bakersfield are Truxtun Avenue and Chester Avenue. Unlike most downtown areas in major cities, downtown Bakersfield does not have a towering skyline, although it has a couple tall buildings such as the Bank of America Building (10 stories tall), the Holiday Inn Select Hotel (9 stories tall), and the Padre Hotel (9 stories tall). Notable attractions in downtown Bakersfield include Rabobank Arena, the McMurtrey Aquatic Center, the Padre Hotel, Bakersfield Museum of Art, the historic Fox Theatre, a nightlife district centered around 19th Street and Wall Street Alley, which features Bakersfield landmarks Guthrie's Alley Cat on one end Jerry's Pizza on the other.
Formerly named Pierce Rd, it was renamed Buck Owens Boulevard in 1998 after country music legend Buck Owens. This area is located near Highway 99, between Rosedale Highway/24th Street in Bakersfield, and Airport Drive in Oildale. It is the heart of the Bakersfield's Country Music scene. The main attractions are the Bakersfield sign (formerly located at intercection of Calfornia and Union Ave.) and the Buck Owens Crystal Palace night club, museum, and restaurant. It is also located near Bakersfield Beach Park and Johns Incredible Pizza.
The Westchester district is just north of Downtown Bakersfield. It is bounded by Highway 99 to the West, 24th street to the south, Chester Ave. to the east, and the Kern River, across from Oildale, to the north. Westchester is a mostly residential neighborhood with large Hispanic and African American populations. The neighborhood is known for large shady trees and historic homes built between the 1900s and 1950s. Main points of interest include the Kern County Museum, Sam Lynn Ballpark, and the Garces circle.
The Stockdale district is bounded roughly by Ming Avenue to the south, California Avenue to the East, the Kern River to the north, and Coffee Road to the West. Stockdale is a mix of middle-to-upper class residential, retail and offices and is home to Stockdale Country Club. Neighborhoods here include Stockdale Estates, Olde Stockdale, Quailwood, Park Stockdale and Westpark. This area has three major commercial streets -- California Avenue, Truxtun Avenue, and Stockdale Highway. Notable points of interest include Truxtun Lake, the Kern River Parkway, and the Stockdale Tower. California Avenue is home to many office buildings, a mini financial district and regional offices for many oil companies. The Stockdale Tower, standing at 12 stories and 175 feet tall, was built in the early 1980s and is the tallest building in Kern County.
Southwest Bakersfield is Bakersfield's most populated and is most diverse part of town - in terms of residents and neighborhoods. This area was the primary location for growth in Bakersfield from the 1960s through the 1990s -- when development finally began in the northwest and resumed in the northeast. Southwest Bakersfield is still growing rapidly today, and has seen three high schools built in the area since 1990, with another one, Independence High School, scheduled to open in August 2008. Southwest Bakersfield has large populations of Asian Indians, African Americans, Hispanics, Filipino Americans, Chinese Americans, Korean Americans and Caucasians. Additionally, this area contains many master-planned middle class neighborhoods such as Laurelglen, Campus Park, Amberton, The Oaks as well as Stone Creek, Haggin Oaks and Seven Oaks. Southwest Bakersfield has two major shopping centers, the Valley Plaza Mall, and The Marketplace, and many Asian style restaurants. California State University, Bakersfield is located directly behind the Marketplace and anchors an emerging business district home to Mercy Southwest Hospital and medical offices, Aera Energy and the regional offices for Chevron and State Farm Insurance.
Kern City is located in Southwest Bakersfield across from West High School. The development was built in the 1960s by Del Webb at the same time he was building Sun City and is an enclave of mostly senior citizen residents.
Northwest Bakersfield is located between the Bakersfield suburbs of Rosedale, Fruitvale, and Oildale. It is one of the wealthiest areas in Kern County, and has seen rapid growth over the last 15 years. Northwest Bakersfield is populated mostly by caucasians, but also has small populations of Hispanics and African Americans. It is home to rural Greenacres and newly master-planned neighborhoods such as Riverlakes Ranch, Madison Grove and Brimhall. Northwest Bakersfield has one major shopping center, the Northwest Promenade. This area is known for traffic congestion with few east-west and north-south arterials connecting to the rest of the Bakersfield Metropolitan Area. 7th Standard Road and Olive Drive connects northwest Bakersfield to Oildale, while only Rosedale Highway connects Rosedale to downtown Bakersfield in the east-west direction. Only two roads (Coffee Rd. and Calloway Drive) connect Northwest Bakersfield to Southwest Bakersfield in a north-south direction.
Northeast Bakersfield is bounded by Highway 178 to the south, Union Avenue to the west, the Panorama bluffs to the north, and Fairfax Rd. to the east. Northeast Bakersfield has large Hispanic and Caucasian populations, as well as significant African American and Native American populations. Northeast Bakersfield is home to some wealthy neighborhoods -- such as the Bakersfield Country Club and La Cresta -- and middle and lower class neighborhoods as well. It has one major shopping center, the East Hills Mall. Bakersfield College is located in northeast Bakersfield. Unlike most of Bakersfield which sits on the flat valley floor, northeast Bakersfield is situated along rolling hills that are about 300 feet higher in elevation than the rest of the city. Bakersfield College is given the nickname, "Harvard on the Hill" because of its location on top of the hill in northeast Bakersfield. The Panorama Bluffs provides a view of the Kern River oilfields, Oildale and downtown Bakersfield.
The Rio Bravo area is located east of northeast Bakersfield, in the foothills. It is largely rural and unpopulated, but is currently seeing rapid growth and development with Bakersfield's City in the Hills project. Points of interest include Hart Memorial Park (named after Leo Hart), Lake Ming, the Rio Bravo Country Club, and the California Animal Living Museum (CALM Zoo), and is the former home of Mesa Marin Raceway before its demolition.
Old Town Kern is located primarily around Baker Street, near the former town of Sumner. It has a large homeless population, and is currently under redevelopment. This district is home to many Basque cuisine restaurants.
Two of the earliest schools founded in Kern County were Mrs. Thomas Baker's school, opened in 1863 at the Baker home (near present-day 19th and N Streets); and a Catholic parochial school opened by Reverend Father Daniel Dade in 1865 in Havilah (then the county seat). In 1880, Norris School was established. The land for this school was donated by William Norris, a local farmer. Thirteen to twenty students were taught in its one classroom during the 1880s. Bakersfield City School District (BCSD), is the state's largest elementary school district. The first high school in Bakersfield, Kern County Union High School, opened in 1893. It was renamed Bakersfield High School after World War II.
The site at California Avenue and F Street is the location of the first campus of Bakersfield College, which was established in 1913 and relocated in 1956 to its current location overlooking the Panorama Bluffs in northeast Bakersfield. Bakersfield College has an enrollment of 16,000 students. To serve a growing baby-boomer population after World War II, the Kern High School District has steadily expanded to eighteen campuses and more than 35,000 students, making it the largest high school district in the state. In 1965, a university in the California State University system was founded in Bakersfield. California State University, Bakersfield (CSUB) has approximately 7,800 students. It is an NCAA Division II sports powerhouse in the California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) and some sports, including wrestling (PAC-10), competing in Division I. CSUB is currently attempting to join the Big West Conference and become a Division I athletic school.
Despite efforts to improve college admission rates in the community, Bakersfield still lags in that area. According to a March 2006 study by the Taubman Center for State and Local Government of Harvard University, the Bakersfield metropolitan area is one of the lowest college-educated communities in the nation . Calculated using 2000 US Census figures, the study shows that only 13.5% of adults in the Bakersfield area have a bachelor's degree or higher. This contrasts sharply with the state and the national figures of 26% and 24%, respectively.
The Kern County Museum, located on Chester Avenue just north of downtown Bakersfield, boasts an extensive collection of regional artifacts. Permanent exhibits include: "Black Gold: The Oil Experience", a hands-on modern approach at showing how oil is mined; and "The Lori Brock Children's Discovery Museum", a hands-on children's museum and a display on the influential "Bakersfield Sound" style of country music.
Many films and television shows are filmed in and around Bakersfield. This list represents a selection of those which feature specific references to the city.