Bakersfield, CA and Its Fascinating History
Like many American cities, Bakersfield, CA has a long history full of ups, downs, and surprises. Located in the San Joaquin Valley, Bakersfield is the 9th most populated city in California with an economy based primarily on its mining and agricultural industries. However, Bakersfield used to be a remote area before settlers moved in and the city slowly developed into what it is now. So, here is the fascinating history that has shaped Bakersfield, California into what it is today.
Early Inhabitants in Bakersfield, CA
The region was mostly inhabited by a Native American tribe known as the Yokuts. They were met with settlers in the San Joaquin Valley in 1776, however, their tribe was left relatively untouched until 1827 after the Mexican War of Independence. It was then that Mexican settlers migrated into the Valley. However, the real population spike occurred in 1848 during California’s Gold Rush. Settlers flooded the valley with a tremendous payoff for some because gold was found along the Kern River in 1851, and oil was discovered there in 1865. However, even though more people were drawn to the area, it was still mainly marshland and prone to flooding and malaria outbreaks.
Flooding and Founding of Bakersfield, CA
The original settlement set up in 1860 by newcomers to the region was suddenly swept away by a devastating flood in 1862. In 1863, a man by the name of Thomas Baker, a transplant from Ohio who came during the Gold Rush, moved into the area off the banks of the Kern River. This spot was a popular stop for travelers and came to be known as Baker’s Field. By 1870 the area had grown to a population size of 600, and the town’s official name changed to Bakersfield.
The population size steadily grew, and by 1890, the population size jumped to 2,626 residents. This spike came from the migration of workers from other states into the valley looking for employment from the oil company.
Quake of 1952
A 7.5 magnitude Earthquake struck on July 21st of 1952. Citizens from the Mexico border up to San Francisco could feel it. Two towns were leveled, but Bakersfield was unscathed by the first quake. However, an aftershock a month later with a magnitude of 5.6 hit directly in the center of town in the most populated region. Four people lost their lives, and some of the Bakersfield historic sites were heavily damaged.
From 1970 to 2010, this city has seen a population growth of 400%. It is considered one of the fastest growing cities in the state and offers fair weather and an excellent history that can be seen with a visit to the town’s center. The main two industries are still agriculture and oil, which may account for the town’s continued growth. Their rate of increase has slowed in recent years. People who visit the area rave about the local amenities and the country music scene that was developed here. It has become a hub for the metropolitan area and is welcoming to new businesses.
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