Bakersfield is a large city at the southern end of the Central Valley of Kern County, California, United States. It is one of the fastest-growing large-population cities in the USA, and is located roughly equidistant between Los Angeles and Fresno, to the south and north respectively. As of 2008, the population was estimated at 328,692 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 refining, and manufacturing. 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.
The Yokuts Indians
were the first people to settle in the San Joaquin Valley
, roughly 8,000 years ago. In 1776, the Spanish missionary Father Francisco Garcés
became the first European to explore the area. In 1851, gold was discovered in the Kern River
in the southern Sierra Nevada
mountains, and in 1865, oil was discovered in the valley. The Bakersfield area, a tule
- reed-infested malarial
swamp, was first known as Kern Island to the handful of pioneers
who built log cabins there in 1860. The area was subject to flooding from the Kern River delta, which occupied what is now the downtown area.
In 1863, former Iowa militia member and former California state senator Colonel Thomas Baker moved into the Kern Island area to champion the cause of land reclamation. He settled into a tule-reed thatched log cabin near present-day Truxtun Avenue and R Street. Baker, who had experience as a surveyor and was reputed to be one of the few government officials not corrupted by big business, was recommended to survey and lay out the town of Visalia in the late 1850s.
Baker grew a field of alfalfa, near the modern Amtrak station, for travelers to feed their horses. Newspapers as far away as San Francisco advised travelers to visit Baker's field and use his field of alfalfa to feed their stock.
As more families moved to the area, Baker subsidized development out of his own pocket. He constructed public sawmills, helped other pioneers drain their land, and surveyed the land. Baker was asked to plot out a new town after a flood of the Kern River rerouted the river channel to the north. At the founding ceremony in 1869, residents surprised Baker by naming the town Bakersfield, in his honor.
The town continued to grow and reached a population of about 801 by 1880, and 2,626 by 1890. In 1900, its population was approximately 4,836. The town continued to grow despite major floods in 1867 and 1893, and fires in 1889 and 1919.
In 1874, the Southern Pacific Railroad established itself in the area. On May 27 1898, the San Joaquin and San Francisco Railroad (locally known as "The People's Railroad"), later the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad, and now a part of the BNSF the new name for the for the merged Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad, arrived in Bakersfield, greatly boosting the population.
In the 1930s, the Great Plains drought and dust storms (commonly called the Dust Bowl) precipitated a large influx of refugees from Arkansas and Oklahoma, who mostly found work in the agriculture and oil industries. The overwhelming number of refugees caused considerable social strife. After World War II, the city's population grew slowly and steadily over time.
Migration from Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Southern California brought new residents, who were mostly employed by the oil industry. By 1980, Bakersfield's population was about 105,000. During the next 20 years, Bakersfield's population exploded and surpassed 250,000 by 2000.
On July 21
an earthquake struck at 4:52 a.m. Pacific Standard Time. The earthquake, which was felt from San Francisco to the Mexican border
, destroyed the nearby communities of Tehachapi
. The earthquake's destructive force also bent cotton fields into U shapes, slid a shoulder of the Tehachapi Mountains
across all four lanes of the Ridge Route
, collapsed a water tower creating a flash flood, and destroyed the railroad tunnels in the mountain chain. Bakersfield was spared, experiencing minor architectural damage without loss of life. The earthquake measured 7.3 on the Richter Scale
The first aftershock came on July 29, and did minor architectural damage, but raised fears that the flow of the Friant-Kern Canal could be dangerously altered, potentially flooding the city and surrounding areas.
Aftershocks, for the next month, had become normal to Bakersfield residents, until at 3:42 p.m August 22 a 6.5 earthquake struck directly under the town's center in the most densely populated area of the Southern San Joaquin Valley. The town did have some good fortune, however, as the quake struck late on a Friday afternoon when businesses were already closed down or beginning to close down. Four people died in the aftershock, and many of the town's historic structures were permanently lost.
Geography and climate
Bakersfield is located at , and at elevation. It lies near the southern "horseshoe" end of the San Joaquin Valley
, with the southern tip of the Sierra Nevadas
just to the east. The city limits extend to the Sequoia National Forest
, at the foot of the Greenhorn Mountain Range and at the entrance to the Kern Canyon. To the south, the Tehachapi Mountains
feature the historic Tejon Ranch
. To the west is the Temblor Range
, which features the Carrizo Plain National Monument
and the San Andreas Fault
, approximately across the valley floor.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of , of which is land (98.86%) and is water (1.14%).
Bakersfield lies approximately north of Los Angeles (about a 1½-hour drive on I-5 and State Route 99) and about southeast of the state capital, Sacramento (about a 4½-hour drive on State Route 99).
Bakersfield's climate is a semi-arid dry steppe climate (Koppen climate classification BSh), defined by long, hot, dry summers and brief, cool, sometimes rainy winters. In fact, Bakersfield is one of the sunniest cities in the U.S. (just behind Yuma, Arizona and Palm Springs, California). Bakersfield enjoys long-lasting, mild autumns and early springs, giving the region a unique climate suitable for growing a wide variety of crops (ranging from citrus to carrots to almonds and pistachios). With an average rainfall of only 6.49 inches (165mm) per year, most precipitation falls during winter and spring. Since Bakersfield receives less than 10 inches (250mm) of rain per year, some consider Bakersfield to be a desert. Typically, no rain falls from May through September. Summers tend to be very hot in Bakersfield with daily temperatures usually exceeding from mid June to as late as mid September, and occasionally exceeding . Winters often have mild daytime temperatures reaching into the low 60s°F (15 °C). Mornings and nights however, tend to be cold (especially in December and January), where lows can reach as low as , often coming with dense Tule Fog and low visibility, causing many schools to have fog delays as long as three hours.
The record maximum temperature was on July 1, 1950, and the record minimum temperature was on December 23, 1998. The most rainfall in one month was in February 1998. The maximum 24-hour rainfall was on February 9, 1978. Although snow often falls in the Tehachapi mountains south of Bakersfield during the winter, snow is rare on the valley floor; however, fell on January 25, 1999.
The American Lung Association ranked Bakersfield as the most ozone-polluted city in the nation in 2006. It was also ranked as the second-most polluted city in terms of both short-term and year-round particle pollution.
As of the 2000 census
, there were 247,057 people, 83,441 households, and 60,995 families residing in Bakersfield. The population density
was 2,184.4 people per square mile (843.4/km²). There were 88,262 housing units at an average density of 780.4/sq mi (301.3/km²).
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.
Government and economy
The Kern County seat, established in 1866 in the mountain town of Havilah was moved to Bakersfield in 1874. Bakersfield has been incorporated twice in its history. It was first incorporated in 1874, but subsequently disbanded in 1876 with the purpose of deposing an unruly city marshal. The city was incorporated again in 1898. Currently, Bakersfield is governed by a city council and manager system, with a mayor acting as the presiding officer.
Bakersfield is home to the largest carrot-producing operations in the world, Grimmway Farms and Bolthouse Farms. In addition, one of the nation's largest and oldest farming co-ops, the California Cotton Cooperative Association (CalCot), was founded in Bakersfield in 1927.
Other crops harvested in Bakersfield include table grapes, almonds, pistachios, citrus fruits, wheat, garlic, and potatoes.
In 1899, the Kern River Oil Field was uncovered at the Discovery Well by two brothers digging in a pit along the Kern River, about one-mile (1.6 km) east of Gordon's Ferry (where, in the 1850s, the Butterfield Overland Mail stagecoaches had once crossed the Kern River). Advances in steam-injection of oil wells rejuvenated the oil field in the early 1960s. The oilfield, the third largest in California, is still active today and is one of the nation's highest yielding fields of all time. Other local oil fields include the enormous Midway-Sunset field, the largest in California and third-largest in the United States; the former Naval Petroleum Reserve at Elk Hills; the Kern Front field, and adjacent Mount Poso Oil Field; the nearly exhausted Buena Vista Field; the Belridge field; and underneath much of Bakersfield itself, along and north of the Kern River, the large Fruitvale Oil Field. Oil is still important to the local economy, although as other economic sectors have developed it has lost its overwhelming dominance.
There is a large automobile center in Bakersfield. One of the famous pioneers in the auto industry was John Barber, who began Barber Automotive Group. Barber Way, a street in Bakersfield, commemorates him.
Bakersfield's primary airport is Meadows Field Airport. A new terminal was completed in 2006.
Bakersfield differs from many California cities in that it is overwhelmingly conservative. According to the Bay Area Center for Research, Bakersfield is ranked as the 8th most conservative city in the United States, and the most conservative city in California
In the United States presidential election in California, 2004, Kern County cast 66.5% of its votes for George W. Bush, and 32.5% for John Kerry.
Factors for Bakersfield being largely conservative includes the petroleum production around the city, the city's Oklahoma and Dust Bowl heritage and the city's religious atmosphere. As a result, the city is a favorite stopping place for many Republican presidential, gubernatorial, and senatorial candidates.
Communities and neighborhoods
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 few tall buildings such as the Bank of America Building (10 stories), the Holiday Inn Select Hotel (9 stories), and the Padre Hotel (9 stories). Notable attractions in downtown Bakersfield include the Rabobank Arena
, the McMurtrey Aquatic Center
, the Padre Hotel, the Bakersfield Museum of Art, the historic Fox Theater, and a nightlife district centered around 19th Street and Wall Street Alley.
East Bakersfield is generally bounded by Bernard Street to the North, Union Avenue to the West, Brundage Lane to the South, and Weedpatch Hwy to the East. The two main streets of East Bakersfield are Mount Vernon Avenue and Niles Street. Most of East Bakersfield is not in Bakersfield city limits and is unincorporated. East Bakersfield is one of the two first major sections of the city to develop, along with downtown. In contrary to the general population of Bakersfield, it is noted for its large population of minorities including Latino(a)s-Americans and African-Americans. Notable attractions include the The Kern County Museum
which was founded in 1941 and serves more than 94,000 people each year. The museum is consistently recognized for providing some of the most outstanding educational programs in the state of California, such as Native American Life, and Frontier Life. Along with downtown Bakersfield, it is also one of the few parts of the city where you can find locally run restaurants opposed to major chains in other parts.
Buck Owens Boulevard
Formerly named Pierce Rd, it was renamed Buck Owens Boulevard in 1998 after country music legend Buck Owens
. This area is located next to 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 intersection of California and Union Ave.) and the Buck Owens Crystal Palace night club, museum, and restaurant. It is also located near Bakersfield Beach Park and the locally famous truck stop restaurant Zingo's Cafe.
The Westchester district is just west 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. 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 Amberton, Westwood, Stockdale Estates, Old Stockdale (which some realtors have renamed "Olde Stockdale"), Los Portales, Quailwood, Park Stockdale and Westpark. This area has four 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 tall, was built in the early 1980s and is the tallest building in Kern County.
Southwest Bakersfield is Bakersfield's most populated and 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. Additionally, this area contains many master-planned middle class neighborhoods such as The Seasons, Laurelglen, Campus Park, Amberton, The Oaks, and Stone Creek, Tevis Ranch as well as the upper class gated communities of Haggin Oaks, Seven Oaks, the Winter Ridge Estates, and the prestigious Cobblestone. California State University, Bakersfield is also located in the Southwest.
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 has seen rapid growth over the last 15 years.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 (now known as Merle Haggard Drive) 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.
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 Johnny 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.
Northeast Bakersfield is bounded by University Avenue to the south, Union Avenue to the west, the Panorama bluffs to the north, and Fairfax to the east. Northeast Bakersfield has both large Latino
populations. Northeast Bakersfield, along with Westchester and Rio Bravo, is home to some of the wealthiest residents in Bakersfield (particularly The Bakersfield Country Club and homes lining the Panorama Bluffs). Yet, there is also a balanced mixture of middle and upper-lower class neighborhoods as well. It has one major shopping center, the East Hills Mall. Bakersfield's community college, Bakersfield College
, is also 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 higher in elevation than the rest of the city. The Panorama Bluffs provide the best view in the city, providing views of the Kern River oilfields, Oildale and downtown Bakersfield. Although there aren't many, a few local restaurants can be found in Northeast Bakersfield as well.
Old Town Kern
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
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 nineteen 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 was an NCAA Division II sports powerhouse in the California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) with some sports, including wrestling (PAC-10), competing in Division I. CSUB has become a Division I athletic school and is trying to begin the process of joining the Big West Conference . In 1982, Santa Barbara Business College was founded.
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 (citation needed).
Housing and development
Bakersfield city limits continue to expand due to a "hopscotch" pattern of housing development. Westward annexation, which could eventually subsume the area between the base of the Sierra Nevada range and the Temblor Range, has led some planners to consider incorporating a new city to govern the area of rapid growth to the west of the city.
The city of Shafter, a small farming town north of Bakersfield, has filed a suit to limit the northern expansion of Bakersfield's limits. Shafter has also annexed large pieces of farmland to its east and south to ensure that Bakersfield does not envelop its southern area.
The large bluff and plateau which lie east of Bakersfield—toward the Rio Bravo and Kern Canyon area—have been under development for the last sixty years. Because the steep, north-facing edge of the bluff provides a view of the foothills, mountains, oil fields, and Kern River, the city government has attempted to balance development and preservation in this area. In addition, city leaders recognize the possibility that extensive development may lead to erosion and landslides. It's estimated by local officials that Bakersfield and its outlying suburbs will reach populations over one million people by 2020.
Bakersfield is currently serviced by three freeways. State Route 99
bisects Bakersfield from north to south, while State Route 58
exists as a freeway east of SR 99, servicing the southeast part of the city and extending over the Tehachapi mountains to Tehachapi, Mojave, and Barstow. State Route 178
consists of a short segment of freeway that runs from a point near downtown to the northeastern part of the city, although there is currently no direct freeway connection between SR 99 and SR 178.
Bakersfield is the second-largest city in the U.S (behind Fresno
) that is not directly linked to an Interstate highway
Though interest in extending Interstate 40 to Bakersfield has increased in recent years, lack of funding has prevented the proposed extension of I-40 to a neighboring city, San Luis Obispo.
Currently, plans for freeway alignments to the metropolitan Bakersfield area include three east-west connections on the northern, central, and southern parts of town. These connections would link Highways 58 and 178, the future downtown Centennial Corridor, and the future Kern River Westside Parkway to one another or to State Route 99. In addition, a north-south extension west of Rosedale would connect the southern, central, and northern alignments.
Another plan proposes a link between the northern east-west alignment along 7th Standard Road and Interstate 5. This new connection would be designated Highway 58. Congressional funding has been secured for this 25–35 year project; construction is scheduled to begin by 2010.
Another proposal would upgrade and re-designate State Route 99 as an Interstate highway to be named Interstate 9.
(Airport) is a airport in Bakersfield that offers passenger service. It services as a major passenger airport for the whole Kern County
Many of Bakersfield's oldest and most historic restaurants are Basque
, including Woolgrowers, Maitia's, Noriega's, Pyrenees
, Sandrini's, Benji's, Narducci's, and Italian Restaurant Luigi's.
T.L. Maxwells is also one of the oldest restaurants located in the oldest building in downtown Bakersfield that survived the earthquake. They serve a variety of fine wines and cuisine.
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.
Every Spring, Bakersfield hosts one of California's Scottish Games and Clan Gathering. In the late summer, the local St. George's Greek Orthodox Church hosts an annual Greek Festival.
Memorial Day weekend is host to the Kern County Basque Festival, sponsored by the Kern County Basque Club
This 3 day festival features food, music, dance, and handball games.
In March, Auto Club Famoso Raceway holds the annual March Meet nostalgia drag racing event. The event dates back to the U.S. Fuel and Gas Finals held in March 1959.
Twice a year, the CSUB Indigenous Native American Club hosts a Native Gathering on the California State University Bakersfield campus at Runner Park .
In the fall, Bakersfield hosts the annual Kern County Fair, which showcases much of the area's agriculture as well as putting on entertaining concerts and hosting a small carnival.
Each year Bakersfield hosts a political conference known as the Bakersfield Business Conference. Since 1985 this conference has grown in attendance and as of 2007 the attendance numbered over 9,000. The Conference has had several notable political speakers to include Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford, George Bush, Margaret Thatcher, Neil Armstrong, Norman Schwarzkopf, Colin Powell, Mike Wallace, Dan Rather, Tom Brokaw, Rush Limbaugh and Paul Harvey.
In the 1950s and -60s, local musicians
such as Bill Woods
, Tommy Collins
, Buck Owens
, Merle Haggard
, and Wynn Stewart
developed a streamlined country music style called the Bakersfield sound
, which emphasized pedal steel guitar
, the Fender Telecaster
electric guitar and intense vocals. Bakersfield country was considered a spinoff of the honky-tonk
style of country music that emerged from Texas
, appropriate since many musicians there hailed from either Texas
or surrounding states. Today, Bakersfield is third only to Nashville, Tennessee
in country music fame, and Bakersfield continues to produce famous country music
artists. the late Buck Owens' Crystal Palace is still one of the most respected concert venues, regularly showing off new recording artists as well as established country music stars. Buddy Alan (Buck's eldest son) performs with The Buckaroos (Doyle Curtsinger, Jim Shaw, Terry Christoffersen and David Wulfekuehler) regularly. Country music artist Gary Allan
bases his music on the Bakersfield sound.
Rock & Roll, Punk Rock, Heavy Metal and More
In 1978, The Rolling Stones
released the song "Far Away Eyes
" on the album Some Girls
. Mick Jagger and Keith Richards collaborated extensively on writing the song and it was recorded in late 1977. The Rolling Stones, longtime country music fans, incorporated many aspects of Bakersfield sound
country music into this song. Bakersfield is mentioned in the first line of the song.
I was driving home early Sunday morning through Bakersfield
Listening to gospel music on the colored radio station
In the early nineties, a group of friends from the middle-class suburbs of Bakersfield formed the band Korn. They quickly became innovators in the nu metal genre by employing low-tuned 7-string guitars, along with extremely low bass lines influenced by funk and hip-hop music. This sound later characterized the nu metal subgenre.
In 1974 Southern Gospel
artist The Lighthouse Boys
was formed and helped pave the way for future generations of Christian Musicians to come out of Bakersfield. One of those bands was Christian Rap
artist Royal Ruckus who went on to sign with Flicker Records
and tour nationally with GRITS
and other top CCM
artists in the nation.
Pete Prevost joined Sparrow Records rock band Sanctus Real in 2006 as their second guitarist.
Sports and recreation
Bakersfield is home to a large population of off-highway vehicle
(OHV) enthusiasts. As of May 2001, over 18,000 OHVs were registered in Kern County. On May 26
, the City of Bakersfield and the State of California Parks department obtained an assignable option, using a grant from the OHV Trust funds, to purchase a prospective 11,000 acre (45 km²) site for an OHV park. Ruth Coleman, Director of California State Parks, remarked, "This project responds to the needs of the Bakersfield community for increased recreation opportunities and will provide a cornerstone for the Central Valley Strategy." Several programs, including National 4-H and California Off-Road PALS, exist to train youth in proper OHV recreation.
Bakersfield also hosts various amateur sporting events, including shooting, cycling, boat drag, rugby, water skiing, soccer, youth baseball, tennis, horseshoes, and volleyball competitions. Other recreational opportunities include whitewater rafting, rock climbing, mountain biking, and skiing in the southern Sierras.
The city's major civic center, the Rabobank Arena
(formerly known as Cenntennial Garden) in downtown Bakersfield, is home to the Bakersfield Jam
; a NBA Developmental League
team, and the Bakersfield Condors
; an ECHL
AA-level hockey team,who are now affiliated with the Anaheim Ducks. In addition, the arena hosts basketball
teams of CSU Bakersfield
, the California State High School Wrestling Championships, sporting, and entertainment conventions. The Bakersfield Blitz
; a former af2
team, also played at Rabobank Arena.
Other arenas include the McMurtrey Aquatic Center, which includes an Olympic-sized swimming pool that hosts high-school events, a recreational pool with two waterslides, a smaller "child safe" pool, lockers, showers, and much more. The Ice Sports center hosts youth hockey. The Kern County Soccer Park is the largest soccer facility in California.
Bakersfield has been a stop for the Ben Hogan Tour and Nike Tour. It also hosts PGA Tour qualifying events and NCAA Division II regionals and tournaments. Courses include the private Seven Oaks Country Club, the Bakersfield Country Club, the Rio Bravo Country Club and the public River Lakes Golf Club.
Fox Theater is a restored movie theater. It hosts movies, concerts and entertainers.
Bakersfield currently has three movie theatres: Edwards Cinemas Bakersfield Stadium 14 and United Artist East Hills Mall 10 (both apart of Regal Entertainment Group), and Reading Cinemas Valley Plaza 16.
The Dome, a small building formerly known as Strongbow Stadium, hosts a number of different events including concerts, boxing, kickboxing, and professional wrestling.
is the most popular sport in Bakersfield. The Bakersfield High School
team has won more total games, sections, and state titles than any other California school and the Bakersfield College
team has won four national championships. In addition, several notable NFL
athletes first played football at one of the seventeen Bakersfield-area high schools (see listing below). The Bakersfield High School Driller football team attracts huge crowds at every game. In film, the movie The Best of Times
was based loosely on an old rivalry between Bakersfield High and Taft High.
Bakersfield is the home of several motor sports venues. The Bakersfield Speedway is a ⅓-mile (500m) banked clay oval track in Oildale
. It hosts weekly Saturday-night racing, most notably the World of Outlaws
. The Bakersfield Speedway is currently attempting to become a more nationally significant track by hosting races that feature out-of-state drivers.
After the destruction of the Mesa Marin Raceway, a new track, currently known as Kern County's New Home to NASCAR, was approved for construction by the Kern County Board of Supervisors in December, 2006. The track will be built west of Bakersfield, at the Interstate 5/Highway 43 (Enos Lane) interchange near the Kern River, on what is now an almond orchard. Current designs indicate a ½-mile (800m), high-banked tri-oval, similar to its predecessor, which will allow speeds over . The track is set to open for the 2008 racing season and will host local racing events, a popular high school racing series, and the NASCAR Grand National Division, AutoZone West Series events. The name of the track is being withheld in hopes of finding a corporate sponsor, but was christened Kern River Speedway due to the lack of a sponsor in 2008. Construction has halted due to the falling out of California's real estate market that the track financiers were depending on to sell land to fund the construction of the track.
Famoso Raceway is a drag racing track north of Bakersfield. Each Spring, they host an event called the March Meet. The initial March Meet was started by the car club The Bakersfield Smokers, in 1959, and included the legendary Swamp Rat machine driven by "Big Daddy" Don Garlits. This event, which originally gave legitimacy to the NHRA, is now a nostalgic drag racing event held every March and operated by the track. In the fall of each year, Auto Club Famoso Raceway also hosts the California Hot Rod Reunion, a gathering of street rodders, drag racers and auto enthusiasts.
Note: Bakersfield had an Arena Football
team in the af2
league in the 2000s, but has folded operations.
Notable residents and former residents
Law and politics
Science and medicine
Arts and entertainment
- Adema - Rock band
- Ralph Bailey - Radio talk show host, KNZR1560AM; television commentator, ABC23; newspaper contributor, The Bakersfield Californian
- Noah Beery - Actor
- Big Poppa E - Performance Poet
- Robert Beltran - Actor
- Justin Berry - Public speaker and former teenage webcam pornographer
- Frank Bidart - Award-winning poet
- James Chapman - Novelist and publisher
- Brandon Cruz - Punk musician and former child actor
- Ric Drasin - Actor, author, designer of the Gold's Gym and World Gym logos, and retired professional wrestler
- Jeff Duran - Radio personality and comedian who worked at KKXX-FM from 2002-2004
- Dave Ellis - World-renown percussionist/ Former soloist for the Musical BLAST
- Garro Ellis - Host of the nationally syndicated financial radio program Invest Express
- Kelli Garner - Actress
- Merle Haggard - Country Music Hall of Fame inductee
- Gerald Haslam - Author and poet
- Gabriel Iglesias - Comedian
- KoЯn (Jonathan Davis, Reginald "Fieldy" Arvizu, James "Munky" Shaffer, David Silveria, Brian "Head" Welch) - Grammy Award-winning metal band
- Dalene Kurtis - American model, famous for being Playmate of the Year.
- Michael Lockwood - Guitarist and music producer
- Jaz McKay - Radio talk show host for AM1560, writer, and comedian
- Buck Owens - Country-western singer
- Prussian Blue - White Nationalist duo; used to live in Bakersfield
- Lawrence Tibbett - Lead baritone of the New York Metropolitan Opera
- Brian Wiley - Host of the nationally syndicated financial radio program Invest Express
- Vernon Burke - split end (1960s)
- Jeff Buckey - Stanford University, Miami Dolphins, Browns, 49ers, San Francisco Demons
- David Carr - quarterback, first overall draft pick (Houston Texans), currently plays for the New York Giants.
- Frank Gifford - Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee
- Cory Hall - Washington Redskins safety
- Rodney Leslie - New Orleans Saints defensive tackle
- Brock Marion - Dallas Cowboys Super Bowl champion player
- Stephen Neal - New England Patriots lineman, Super Bowl champion player, former U.S. Olympic wrestler and World championship gold medalist.
- Joey Porter - Pittsburgh Steelers All-Pro outside linebacker, Pro Bowl selectee, and Super Bowl champion (2006). Recently signed with the Miami Dolphins.
- Rocky Rasley - Former guard
- L.J. Shelton - Miami Dolphins Starting lineman
- Jeff Siemon - Minnesota Vikings Pro Bowl linebacker (1972-1983), inducted to the College Football Hall of Fame in 2006.
- Jeremy Staat - Former Pittsburgh Steelers defensive lineman
- Louis Wright - defensive back, NFL 1970's all-decade team
References to Bakersfield
- "Streets Of Bakersfield" - A song by Buck Owens made in and about Bakersfield.
- "Mexicali Blues" - A song by Grateful Dead mentions Bakersfield in the song.
- " Leaving Jesusland" & " Instant Crassic" - Two songs by NOFX mention Bakersfield, with lyrics referring to the city's mostly conservative political stance ("Leaving Jesusland") and a very short humorous song about the town in the band's eyes ("Instant Crassic")
- "I Wish I Could See Bakersfield" - A song by Craig Morgan (singer)
- "Unfair" - A song by Pavement mentions Bakersfield trash at end of song.
- "I've Been Everywhere" - A song by Johnny Cash mentions Bakersfield.
- "Far Away Eyes" - In a Rolling Stones song, Mick Jagger whimsically sings of listening to the radio while driving through Bakersfield.
- "A Bar in Bakersfield" - A song by Bakersfield native-born Merle Haggard about a guy who watched all his friends make it big in country music while he was "still playing the guitar in a bar in Bakersfield".
Film and television
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.
- Catscratch - A cartoon on Nickelodeon; the cats race in a race called "The Bakersfield 500".
- Bakersfield P.D. - A situation comedy about Bakersfield police officers.
- The Running Man - Opens with the Bakersfield Food Riots in which the main character, Ben Richards (played by Arnold Schwarzenegger the current Governor of California) is framed as "The Butcher of Bakersfield."
- Fearless - Starring Jeff Bridges opens with the aftermath of a plane crash in a cornfield outside Bakersfield and also features the now-defunct Golden Empire Ambulance service.
- In two episodes of the TV series Clueless, "Bakersfield Blues" and "Back From Bakersfield", the main character and her father moved to Bakersfield.
- The Simpsons episode "Take My Wife, Sleaze" features the Hell's Satans, a fictional biker gang from Bakersfield.
- In Every Which Way But Loose, Clint Eastwood's character sneaks his precocious pet orangutang Clyde into the fictional Bakersfield Zoo to relieve carnal tensions. Several scenes were shot in Bakersfield, some including views of the famous Bakersfield sign that formerly spanned Union Avenue just south of California Avenue.
- In The Cell, the equipment used by the serial killer has a plate stamped "Made in Bakersfield."
- In Day 2 of 24, George Mason plans to escape the blast radius of an atomic bomb set to go off in Los Angeles by going to Bakersfield.
- In the film Cast Away, starring Tom Hanks, the day is saved thanks to an outhouse that reads "Bakersfield" across the side.
- Brooke Thompson, better known as Pumkin from vh1 reality shows such as Flavor of Love, Flavor of Love Girls: Charm School, and I Love Money is from Bakersfield. She is best known for spitting on contestant New York on Flavor of Love.
- In the film View from the Top, Gwyneth Paltrow's character mentions the routes of the flights for the airline she is applying to and at her job interview she claims that they stop once a week to Bakersfield.
- In the film Misery, Kathy Bates's character Annie Wilkes mentions growing up in Bakersfield.
- In the film Sunset Boulevard, Gloria Swanson's character Norma Desmond mentions she has oil in Bakersfield.
- In the film Airplane II: The Sequel, Controller Jacobs (Stephen Stucker) makes reference to places where he traveled to, and says "Then we went to Bakersfield, then we went to Fresno, but no one goes to Fresno anymore."
- The 1986 Robin Williams/Kurt Russell film The Best of Times re-matches the heroes' hometown high school football team from the nearby small town of Taft against the far superior Bakersfield High football team, 13 years after they lost the original game. The Bakersfield team (and the city in general) is depicted as the ironic "big city" antagonist in this film.
- In the August 17, 2007 episode of Last Comic Standing, comedian Doug Benson made a religious reference to Bakersfield as being "hell" in his head-to-head comedic performance.
- In the Friends episode "The One with Chandler's Dad", Chandler and Monica go to Las Vegas to tell Chandler's father about their marriage. Bakersfield is mentioned in a joke.
- In the 1978 Rolling Stones song "Far Away Eyes", Mick Jagger narrates a humorous country & western story that begins "I was driving home early Sunday morning through Bakersfield, listening to gospel music on the colored radio station..."
- "Bakersfield California" was the subject of one of the puzzles on an episode of Wheel of Fortune
- In episode 304 of South Of Nowhere, "Spencer's New Girlfriend", Carmen (Brooke Vallone) talks about Bakersfield being the worst place she has lived in.
- In the film "Short Circuit", Norman Crosby asks Ben Jabituya: "Where are you from, anyway?". Ben Jabituya replys, "Bakersfield, originally."
- In the 1970 film "Five Easy Pieces", Jack Nicholson is seen walking through downtown Bakersfield. Other scenes were filmed near the oilfields of Taft, and near the community of Wasco. This despite the fact that the film is set in Oklahoma.
- In the 1974 Columbo episode "Swan Song", fictional country singer Tommy Brown, played by Johnny Cash plays a concert in Bakersfield before staging a fatal plane crash killing his wife.
- The movie "There Will Be Blood" makes reference to Bakersfield. The story was based on the early days of the Oil industry in the area.
- In the 2006 film Alpha Dog Bakersfield is mentioned toward the end of the film.
- In the classic Christmas episode of the iconic Cartoon Network series Johnny Bravo, guest starring popular American entertainer Donny Osmond, Johnny wants to mail a letter to Santa Claus and the energetic postal worker mentions that the post office's range of operations spans "from Bakersfield to Borneo.
- Near the end of Season 3 of The Shield members of the Strike team try to move their cash from the Armenian Money train robbery to a storage shed in Bakersfield from LA. Their plans to do this are thwarted by a fellow strike team member."
- On the radio show Loveline, Stryker jokingly mentions Bakersfield as a place to take a terrible, cheap vacation.
- In the Off-Broadway show Altar Boyz, Juan learns that his parents are in Bakersfield.
Bakersfield has five sister cities
, as designated by Sister Cities International, Inc. (SCI)