Bakersfield, the center of a metropolitan area of about 800,000 people is located approximately halfway between Los Angeles and Fresno. The city is one of American cities with the most clear days in a year (more than 190 on average). Rain usually only occurs between October and April and snow falls every twenty years on average. However, in the winter months, the so-called Tule Fog occurs, a fog that is characteristic for the region. Bakersfield’s population has grown rapidly in the recent past, the number of inhabitants has tripled between 1980 and 2010. Areas adjacent to the city were annexed one after the other. In 1952, an earthquake with a strength of 7,3 hit the city but did not cause major damages.
The San Joaquin Valley was for a long time only inhabited by the Native Yokuts people due to its hard to reach location, before Mexican settlers started to make their home here around 1820. After gold was found in California in 1848, this changed rapidly and people from all over the country started to move into the formerly almost uninhabited area. There were many conflicts between Natives and newly-arriveds, especially after gold was also discovered nearby in 1851. In 1865, crude oil was discovered here also. One of those who had come to the region on the search for natural resources was Colonel Thomas Baker, who had set up his camp at the Kern River in 1863 and thus laid the foundation for Bakersfield, which until 1870 grew to be the largest settlement in the area and was incorporated in 1873.
In Downtown Bakersfield, visitors will find the Fox Theater built in 1930, which is used for performances of all kinds and is widely known for its good acoustics. After a long period of decay, the building was threatened to be demolished in the 90s, but was finally saved by the efforts of some local personalities. The theater is home to an annual film festival called FLICS. In the neighborhood there is the Rabobank Arena, which is host to sports events and which has been extended to also host trade fairs and conferences. In the neighborhood Old Town Kern near Downtown, a surprisingly large number of restaurants with Basque cuisine can be found.
Bakersfield is a premier address for fans of Country Music, because a separate style of Country, reminiscent of the Texan Honky Tonk style, was developed here in the 50s and 60s. An important driver for this development in the city was the musician Buck Owens who had moved here in young years and had his greatest musical success with the Bakersfield Sound. Owens opened the Crystal Palace, which served as a combined stage, restaurant and music club and which to this day is a place where new Country talents are being promoted. Crystal Palace also hosts a museum.