Aerial view of the southern city center downtown area of Bakersfield illuminated by late afternoon light.

Bakersfield, California

Bakersfield is a large city situated close to the southern end of the San Joaquin Valley and the Central Valley region in Kern County in the south-central portion of the US State of California. Besides being the largest city in Kerr County, Bakersfield is also the country's 48th most populous city and the state's 9th most populous city. The "Bakersfield-Delano Metropolitan Statistical Area," of which the entire Kern County is a part, is considered the country's 62nd largest metropolitan area. Nicknamed "Nashville West," the city serves as an important agriculture and energy production center. Bakersfield is also regarded as the birthplace of the country music genre referred to as the Bakersfield Sound.

Geography Of Bakersfield

Northeast Bakersfield aerial view.

Bakersfield covers a total area of 372 sq. km, of which only 3.6 sq. km is occupied by water, and 368 sq. km is occupied by land. This large city is situated approximately 443km southeast of the capital city of Sacramento and 180km north of Los Angeles. Bakersfield is located close to the southern end of San Joaquin Valley, with the city limits extending to the Sequoia National Forest at the base of the Greenhorn Mountain Range. The Tehachapi Mountains featuring the Tejon Ranch are situated to the south of the city, whereas the Temblor Range behind which is the San Andreas Fault and the large Carrizo Plain is located to the west of the city. There are many districts and neighborhoods in the city, such as Central Bakersfield, North Bakersfield, Northeast Bakersfield, East Bakersfield, Southeast Bakersfield, South Bakersfield, Southwest Bakersfield, and Northwest Bakersfield. 

Climate Of Bakersfield

According to the Köppen climate classification, Bakersfield experiences a desert climate with very hot and dry summers and cold winters. The hot summer season lasts from the beginning of June to the end of September, with an average high temperature ranging between 36.6°C and 21.6°C. The cold winter season lasts from mid-November to the end of February, with an average low temperature ranging between 5°C and 15.5°C. The city receives extremely low rainfall, averaging only 161.5mm per year. With about 191 clear days a year, the city gets most of the rain during the winter season, and dense fogs are also quite common during the cold season. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, Bakersfield has recorded about 28 days of "Unhealthy air quality" and one day of "Very Unhealthy air quality" in 2021. 

Brief History Of Bakersfield

Daytime view of a historic public clock tower in downtown Bakersfield, California. 
Daytime view of a historic public clock tower in downtown Bakersfield, California. 

Archaeological studies have revealed that the present-day Bakersfield area was inhabited by Native American settlements for thousands of years. Before the arrival of the Spanish people in the region, the area was inhabited by the native Yawelmani Yokuts. They resided in lodges along the Kern River and hunted various animal species, including antelope, bears, fish, and game birds. The first European to explore the area in 1776 was the Spanish Franciscan friar named Francisco Garces. Mexican settlers started to migrate to the area after the Mexican War of Independence. In due course, several colonists arrived in the region following the discovery of gold and oil in the San Joaquin Valley. It is believed that the present-day Bakersfield area was initially a tule reed-covered marshland and these swamplands along the Kern River were reclaimed and settled by Thomas Baker in 1863. By 1870, the area had a population of 600 inhabitants and soon became the principal town in Kerr County. Bakersfield was officially incorporated in 1873, and in 1874 it replaced Havilah as the county seat of Kerr County. The city's oil industry attracted several people from the US States of Louisiana, Oklahoma, Texas, and the southern part of California to Bakersfield. The city of Bakersfield was reincorporated on January 11, 1898. A massive earthquake struck Bakersfield on July 21, 1952, measuring 7.5 on the moment magnitude scale. The city and its surrounding areas suffered widespread damage due to the earthquake and the aftershocks. Nevertheless, Bakersfield grew rapidly between 1970 and 2010 and became one of California's fastest-growing cities. 

The Population And Economy Of Bakersfield

oilfield in Bakersfield, California
View of an oil field in Bakersfield, California, with derricks pumps. 

Bakersfield is home to 403,455 inhabitants as of 2020. The city has a population density of 1039.81 inhabitants per sq. km. The population of Bakersfield has increased from the previous US census, which recorded a population of 347,483 inhabitants in 2010. The largest ethnic groups in Bakersfield are the Hispanic White, which account for 38.9% of the city's population, the non-Hispanic White at 29.5%, other races at 12.1%, Asians at 7.52%, and African Americans at 6.65%. The most common hometown of the foreign-born residents of California is Mexico, the Philippines, and China. In 2019, the city's most prominent universities by the number of degrees awarded were Bakersfield College, California State University – Bakersfield, and UEI College – Bakersfield. The city also forms a part of the Kern High School District, which comprises 28 schools and is the largest high school district in California. 

Bakersfield's 2019 median household income is $62,402, while the 2019 median property value is $264,500. The city's economy employs about 163,000 people in various large industries. Bakersfield is home to the corporate and regional headquarters of multiple industries that deal with oil and agriculture. Due to the city's proximity to the ports of both Oakland and Los Angeles and its inexpensive land, many companies have moved their bases to Bakersfield. The largest industries in Bakersfield include Health Care & Social Assistance, Retail Trade, and Educational Services. The city's highest paying industries are Utilities, Mining & Quarrying, Oil & Gas Extraction, and Public Administration. 

Tourist Attractions In Bakersfield

Exterior view of the iconic Fox Theatre in Bakersfield, California
Exterior view of the iconic Fox Theatre in Bakersfield, California. Editorial credit: ELW /

California Living Museum

Commonly referred to as CALM, the California Living Museum is a zoo spread over 14 acres in Bakersfield. Accredited by the Zoological Association of America, the California Living Museum features many plants and animals, including injured and orphaned wild animals. Some of the natural exhibits of CALM include an open black bear exhibit, Cats of California, Bird of Prey, Mammal round, Waterfowl Pond, deer yard, underground reptile house, and a contact area with domestic animals. The CALM also provides education to more than 13,000 school children in Kern County every year through various on-site programs. 

Bakersfield Museum of Art

Entrance of the Bakersfield Museum of Art
Gated entrance of the Bakersfield Museum of Art. Editorial credit: sc_images /

The Bakersfield Museum of Art is situated at the corner of 19th Street and R Street in Central Park in downtown Bakersfield. Established in 1954, this art museum occupies an area of 1,620 sq.m and contains four galleries, a banquet hall, and two classrooms. Outside the museum, several gardens exhibit various art forms and sculptures. 

Kern County Museum

The Kern County Museum in Bakersfield, California
The Kern County Museum in Bakersfield, California. Editorial credit: Richard Thornton /

Kern County Museum is located just north of downtown Bakersfield. This history museum showcases several historic structures and well-preserved artifacts that tell stories about the history of Kern County. One of the most noted structures of the Kern County Museum is the Beale Memorial Clock Tower. A living-history museum named Pioneer Village contains more than 50 historic structures from around the county and is spread over an area of 65,000 sq.m. Some other features of the museum include the Black Gold Exhibit, Neon Plaza, and the Lori Brock Children's Discovery Center. 

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