|central business district|
Downtown's civic center viewed from Truxtun Tower (also known as Bank of America Building).
|County||County of Kern|
|City||City of Bakersfield|
|Subdistricts of Downtown|
|• Total||1.737 sq mi (4.50 km2)|
|Using the smaller, more commonly associated boundaries for downtown.|
Downtown is the central business district for Bakersfield, California. Located in the heart of the city, Downtown Bakersfield is easily accessible from all its other parts. It is also reemerging as the center of Bakersfield’s arts, culture and entertainment sectors. Downtown contains several of the cities major theaters, sporting complexes, museums, and historical landmarks.
What is considered to be “downtown” Bakersfield varies. In order to define Downtown Bakersfield, it is important to first define the Central Bakersfield region. Starting from the north and traveling clockwise, Central Bakersfield is bounded by the Kern River, Union Avenue, State rRute 58, and State Route 99. Most people (including the Downtown Business Association) define downtown Bakersfield as the region bordered by 24th Street (SR 178), Union Avenue (SR 204), California Avenue, and "F" Street. Other people extend the boundaries east to State Route 99 and north to Golden State Avenue (SR 204). Some people consider all of Central Bakersfield to be “downtown Bakersfield.”
Unlike most cities of similar size, Bakersfield does not have a towering skyline. There are few tall buildings in Downtown Bakersfield, such as the Bank of America Building (10 stories), the Bakersfield Marriott Hotel (9 stories), and The Padre Hotel (8 stories). The shops and cafes that line the Downtown streets feature a variety of dining and shopping opportunities. Visitors to Downtown Bakersfield can find souvenirs, antiques, local art work, and even natural baby products. Notable attractions in Downtown Bakersfield include the Rabobank Arena, the McMurtrey Aquatic Center, the Bakersfield Museum of Art, the historic Fox Theater, the exquisitely renovated The Padre Hotel, and a nightlife district centered around 19th Street and Wall Street Alley.
Bakersfield has always had some districts located downtown. Recently, as part of a redevelopment effort, others are being created.
The Arts District is one of the newer districts to be defined in Downtown Bakersfield. It is roughly bordered by 21st Street, Chester Avenue, 17th Street, and "G" Street. Theaters in the district include the Fox Theater (20th St. and H St), Stars Theater (Chester Ave. and 20th St) and Spotlight Theater (19th St. and H St). In addition, several art galleries are located around the intersection of 19th Street and Eye Street. The Arts District is also home to the historic The Padre Hotel, which has been remodeled and reopened as a boutique hotel. The district has also begun holding First Friday which showcases galleries and allows for street vendors on the first Friday of every month in support of local artists.
Civic Center is the center of government for both the City of Bakersfield and the County of Kern. It is roughly bordered by Truxtun Ave, Q St, BNSF railroad yard, and H St. Major government buildings include Bakersfield City Hall, County of Kern Administrative Building, hall of records, Superior Court, and Municipal Court.
Although structures representing the center of government, such as City Hall and the Court House are located there, growth has resulted in many services being moved to other places throughout the city. Also, many state and federal services are also placed in locations outside of the Civic Center.
Civic Center has also become one of Bakersfield’s sport centers. Civic Center also houses the Rabobank Theater and Convention Center (formerly known as the Civic Auditorium). This is the largest theater and convention facility in the city. It is also conveniently located next to the Marriott Convention Hotel. The Rabobank Arena (formerly known as the Centennial Garden), is a large indoor multipurpose arena. McMurtrey Aquatic Center houses a 50 meter competition swimming and diving pool. There is also the Bakersfield Ice Sports Center, an indoor ice rink used for junior and adult league hockey and recreation.
Education District is the center of education institutions that are located Downtown. Currently five institutions have a campus or a satellite campus in the district. The Education District is roughly bordered by 24th St, Q St, 20th St and Chester Ave.
Mill Creek is another one of Downtown’s newer districts, and is still being developed. When fully completed, Mill Creek will consist of a mixture of both low and high density residential, commercial and retail. The redevelopment area is defined to be Golden State Avenue, Union Avenue, California Avenue, and "Q" Street. Running through the center of Mill Creek is the Mill Creek Linear Park. This runs along the manmade Kern Island Canal, which has been redesigned to have the look of a natural river.
A major attraction in the area is the Bakersfield Museum of Art. The Beale Memorial Library, which is the headquarters for the Kern County Library System, is also located in the Mill Creek. Another important structure is the Amtrak station, which is Bakersfield’s rail link to the San Joaquin Valley.
Other Neighborhoods and Districts
The following are neighborhoods and districts which are near to Downtown Bakersfield. Some people consider them to be a part of Downtown.
Buck Owens Boulevard
Formerly named Pierce Road, Buck Owens Boulevard was renamed in 1998 in honor of long-time Bakersfield resident and country music legend Buck Owens, who died in 2006. Buck Owens Boulevard runs north/south, parallel to Highway 99, between Rosedale Highway/24th Street in Bakersfield, and Airport Drive in Oildale. Buck Owens Boulevard is located near Beach Park and is the heart of Bakersfield's Country Music scene. The main attractions in the area are the original Bakersfield Sign (formerly located at intersection of California and Union Ave.) and the Buck Owens Crystal Palace a unique museum, store, concert hall, and restaurant.
The Westchester neighborhood is just west of Downtown Bakersfield, although some people consider it to be part of Downtown. Westchester is bounded by the Kern River, "F" Street, BNSF Railroad Yard and State Route 99 (or Oak Street). Westchester is a mostly residential neighborhood. The neighborhood is known for large shady trees and historic homes built between the 1900s and 1960s. Main points of interest include the Kern County Museum (with the Beale Memorial Clock Tower), and Sam Lynn Ballpark.
Being located in the heart of Bakersfield, getting to and from Downtown is relatively easy. State route 178 freeway ends at the eastern edge, and provides connection to the northeast. State route 99 is approximately 1/2 miles west, and provides north/south connection to the rest of the city. Golden State Ave (state route 204), as a freeway ends at the north edge of downtown, and provides access to the northwest.
Downtown also is the primary hub for all modes of intracity and intercity transportation, except air travel. Golden Empire Transit (GET) provides transportation to Greater Bakersfield from the downtown transit center. Kern Regional Transit provides intercity transportation from GET downtown transit center or Amtrak station. Amtrak provides rail connection to the San Joaquin Valley north of Bakersfield, and several bus routes to points west, south and east of the city (with tickets that travel by train at least once).
Although traveling to downtown is relatively easy by car, traveling through it is more difficult. Since SR 178 freeway and Golden State Avenue (SR 204 freeway) stop at the edge of Downtown, cars must travel on surface streets to connect to additional freeways. This has created heavy traffic on major connecting arterial roads, especially on 23rd Street and 24th Street, which are one-way in each direction. This is especially a problem for cars traveling from the northeast to the southwest, since 23rd/24th St. is the most direct route between those two points.
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