|City nickname:"Calfornia's Country Music Capital"|
|County||Kern County, California|
296.3 km² (114.4 mi²)
3.4 km² (1.3 mi²) 1.14%
|Time zone||Pacific: UTC-8|
|City of Bakersfield Official Website|
Bakersfield is the county seat of Kern County, California, in the United States. As of the 2000 census, the city had a total population of 247,057. The city's economy thrives on agriculture, petroleum extraction, and refining. It is one of the fastest growing of the larger cities of the United States. As of 2005 the population is estimated at 307,471 according to local municipal sources. It is California's third largest inland city after Fresno and Sacramento.
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The Yokut Indians were the first people to settle in the San Joaquin Valley, some 8000 years ago. In 1776, the Spanish missionary Father Garces was the first European to reach the area. In 1851 gold was discovered in the Kern River, and in 1865 the first discovery of oil was made in the valley. Settlements grew up, and the place soon became known as "Colonel Baker's field", after one of the local settlers. When Colonel Baker was given the assignment of surveying a township in 1869, the town was given the official name of "Bakersfield".
The town continued to grow, and reached a population of about 300 by 1869, and 800 by 1871. Adversities such as the floods of 1867 and 1893, and the fires of 1889 and 1919, did not reverse this trend. On May 27 1898, the San Joaquin Valley Railroad arrived in Bakersfield, giving a great boost to population. Then, in the 1930s, the Dust Bowl brought a great influx of migrant workers from the Great Plains, taking work mostly in agriculture and the oil industry. In later years, farm work in the area has mostly been conducted by Mexican immigrants. In the 1960s, César Chávez led the fight to improve working conditions for migrant farm workers.
In 1965, a university in the California State University system was founded in Bakersfield. California State University, Bakersfield today has some 7,700 students, with a special focus on business and administration.
Bakersfield is located at 35°21'26" North, 119°1'54" West (35.357276, -119.031661)1.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 296.3 km² (114.4 mi²). 292.9 km² (113.1 mi²) of it is land and 3.4 km² (1.3 mi²) of it is water. The total area is 1.14% water.
Bakersfield lies approximately 120 miles north of Los Angeles (about a 2 hour drive) and about 300 miles southeast of the state capital, Sacramento (about a 5 hour drive).
As of the census2 of 2000, there are 247,057 people, 83,441 households, and 60,995 families residing in the city. The population density is 843.4/km² (2,184.4/mi²). There are 88,262 housing units at an average density of 301.3/km² (780.4/mi²). The racial makeup of the city is 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 are Chican@ or Latino of any race.
There are 83,441 households out of which 42.5% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 52.1% are married couples living together, 15.5% have a female householder with no husband present, and 26.9% are non-families. 21.5% of all households are made up of individuals and 7.2% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.92 and the average family size is 3.41.
In the city the population is 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 are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 30 years. For every 100 females there are 94.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 90.8 males.
The median income for a household in the city is $39,982, and the median income for a family is $45,556. Males have a median income of $38,834 versus $27,148 for females. The per capita income for the city is $17,678. 18.0% of the population and 14.6% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 24.4% of those under the age of 18 and 8.4% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.
Bakersfield is generally a politically conservative city with a large population that can trace its family roots to the western exodus of farmers from the American midwest during the Dust Bowl of the 1930s. These individuals were know as "Okies" because so many of them hailed from Oklahoma which was hard hit by the dust bowl. John Steinbeck's masterpiece The Grapes of Wrath is an accurate illustration of their plight. Bakersfield has a long history of racism and discrimination.
Bakersfield's main airport is Meadows Field Airport, which currently has a new terminal under construction, replacing the long outdated one. The city is also home to a California State University and a community college. In downtown Bakersfield there is the major civic center recently renovated and renamed "Centennial Gardens", which was then renamed in 2005 "Rabobank Arena." This arena hosts a symphony orchestra, an arena football team (Bakersfield Blitz) and an ECHL hockey team (Bakersfield Condors). The increasing number of metropolitan amenities is due to the cities fast pace growth.
As with many cities in the Central Valley of California, many Bakersfield residents have ancestors who migrated to the area from the Midwest during the Dust Bowl. In John Steinbeck's historical novel The Grapes of Wrath, Bakersfield is one of the locations that the protagonists pass through. Jack Kerouac's On the Road deals with the conditions of migrant workers in this part of California on a later date.
In the 1950s, local country musicians such as Buck Owens, Merle Haggard and Wynn Stewart helped invent a rock and roll-influenced country music style called the Bakersfield sound. Their influence was so great that Bakersfield is second only to Nashville, Tennessee, in country music fame.
- The Rolling Stones sing of Bakersfield in "Far Away Eyes," and John Hiatt mentions the town in "Tennessee Plates." The rock artist Henry Rollins mentions Bakersfield in one of his spoken word pieces, titled "The Virtues of Black Sabbath." Martina McBride's song "Cry on the Shoulder of the Road" opens with the line "I'm rolling out of Bakersfield."
- The movie The Running Man opens with the Bakersfield Food Riots, where Arnold Schwarzenegger's character is framed as "The Butcher of Bakersfield."
- One film shot in Bakersfield is The Cell. This blockbuster is about a serial killer that videotapes his victims before drowning them. The equipment used in the victims' demise has a plate stamped "Made in Bakersfield".
- Other films shot in and around Bakersfield are: The "X-Files"(1998), "K-PAX"(2001), "North by Northwest"(1959), "Thelma & Louise" (1991), "Wag the Dog" (1997), "The Break Up" (1998), and "Psycho" (1960).
- In the movie Where the Heart is, the characters in the beginning are en route to Bakersfield before stopping at a Wal-Mart in Oklahoma.
- Any reference to Bakersfield by the writer Stephen King usually does not end up in a positive light.
- Bakersfield is notorious for some of the worst fog throughout the entire West Coast region, with visibility sometimes dropping to ten feet.
- In the CRPG Fallout: A Post Nuclear Role Playing Game, the ruins of Bakersfield are called Necropolis and are inhabited with ghouls, human beings mutated horribly by radiation.
- Population trends of Bakersfield, CA and Kern County
- Maps and aerial photos