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What Bakersfield, CA looked like at the turn of the 20th Century

At the turn of the 20th Century, the population of Bakersfield was over five thousand. The Kern River oil fields were discovered in 1899, bringing a large-scale petroleum industry to Bakersfield. In 1889, a fire destroyed the city’s business district, but it was quickly rebuilt. As a result of this discovery, the petroleum industry skyrocketed again in the area. Oil paved the way for manufacturing industries to increase production as the petroleum industry took off significantly.

In 1900, the city began operating electric streetcar and postal delivery systems. Standard Oil Company began construction on the county’s first oil pipeline in 1901. The pipeline runs from the Kern River field north of Bakersfield to Point Richmond north of San Francisco Bay. In 1908 Construction began on the Los Angeles Aqueduct, a 233-mile-long water conveyance system. To divert water from the Owens River through eastern Kern County to a reservoir in the San Fernando Valley, 4,000 workers tunneled through earth and rock. In 1913, the aqueduct was dedicated.

Some stunning historical photos show Bakersfield, California, in the 1900s.

#1 19th Street Bakersfield, 1904

19th Street Bakersfield, 1904

View looking down 19th Street in Bakersfield. Street railroad tracks are seen along the center of the street, and a streetcar is seen in the distance. The street is lined with buildings.

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#2 Bakersfield High School, 1907

Bakersfield High School, 1907

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#3 Beale Memorial Clock Tower, 1904

Beale Memorial Clock Tower, 1904

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#4 Robert M. Holtsby’s Bakersfield home, 1901

Robert M. Holtsby's Bakersfield home, 1901

Shows house set back among trees and lawn. Constructed of stone, brick and scalloped shingles, has three stories, bay and dormer windows and gazebo on back side of house. Young lady with bicyle in front, right side.

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#5 Southern Hotel, Bakersfield, 1905

Southern Hotel, Bakersfield, 1905

Shows three-story Southern Hotel occupying the corner of 19th & Chester Streets. Pedestrians walk sidewalks, horse and buggies stopped along road, bicyclist on corner. Scribner Block building and White Star Steam Laundry visible in right corner.

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#6 Lowell Elementary School, Bakersfield, 1902

Lowell Elementary School, Bakersfield, 1902

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#7 Lowell Elementary School. It was located on corner of 10th and H. Probably constructed sometime between 1902 and 1907.

Lowell Elementary School. It was located on corner of 10th and H. Probably constructed sometime between 1902 and 1907.

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#8 Members of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks shown near houses in Bakersfield, 1909

Members of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks shown near houses in Bakersfield, 1909

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#9 A.B. Searles Camp. U.S. Geol. Survey. Bakersfield, 1904

A.B. Searles Camp. U.S. Geol. Survey. Bakersfield, 1904

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#10 View of Chester Avenue looking south in Bakersfield, showing the Grand Hotel, 1900

View of Chester Avenue looking south in Bakersfield, showing the Grand Hotel, 1900

Two- to three-story Victorian-style buildings are visible on either side of the wide, unpaved street. To the left, the Grand Hotel can be seen in the foreground, while the Hochheimer can be seen on the corner of the same side of the street near a horse-drawn cart. At center, a streetcar makes its way down the center of the road, the clock tower visible in the distance.

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#11 Exterior view of the Weill Block in Bakersfield, 1900

Exterior view of the Weill Block in Bakersfield, 1900

The large brick building takes up an entire block. It is two-stories high and has large arch-shaped windows on the second floor. Cloth awnings protrude from the first floor, where many shops are visible.

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#12 View of the Beale Clock Tower in Bakersfield, 1900

View of the Beale Clock Tower in Bakersfield, 1900

The tall rectangular tower is at center. The base of the brick building is covered in ivy, while the roof is made of terracotta tiles. Four small balconies can be seen near arched openings in the middle of the tower. Two clock faces can be seen high on the tower, both showing the time to be about five minutes to nine. The tower is located in the middle of a dirt street. The two-story Stoner Block building is visible in the background at right, while a tall building with a domed roof is visible at left. The law office of Geo. Whitaker can be seen in the Stoner building

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#13 Exterior view of the A. W. Bannister hay, grain and storage buildingm 1900

Exterior view of the A. W. Bannister hay, grain and storage buildingm 1900

The large building is L-shaped and stretches across the entire image. Large stacks of hay bales can be seen under the high roof at center, while a large opening at right allows hay wagons to pass through the structure. Two large flatbed wagons can be seen at center, each pulled by a team of eight mules and loaded with bales of hay.

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#14 First Baptist Church, 20th and G Streets, William M. Collins, Pastor, 1905.

First Baptist Church, 20th and G Streets, William M. Collins, Pastor, 1905.

The Church, dedicated in April 1905, moved to this location from 22nd and Eye Streets. The Church moved again in November 1932 to Truxtun Avenue between L and M Streets.

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#15 Petroleum School in the Kern River Oil Field; J.M. Saffe, Architect, Bakersfield, 1900

Petroleum School in the Kern River Oil Field; J.M. Saffe, Architect, Bakersfield, 1900

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#16 The Suey On Association, a fraternal organization of Chinese merchants, was located at 2110 L Street, 1900

The Suey On Association, a fraternal organization of Chinese merchants, was located at 2110 L Street, 1900

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#17 Emerson School, interior, 1905

Emerson School, interior, 1905

Students in classroom, believed to be at Emerson School, with teacher.Girl sitting in front row, with white dress, is Doris Stoner, born July 1895, daughter of Austin Foster T. Stoner. Doris Stoner is the great-aunt of Gaye Lenahan, who donated several family pictures of the Stoner family.

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#18 Austin Foster Stoner with employees and friends, 1905

Austin Foster Stoner with employees and friends, 1905

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#19 Electric Water Company, repair and plumbing shops, 1907

Electric Water Company, repair and plumbing shops, 1907

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#20 Electric Water Company, testing well at Station # 5., 1907

Electric Water Company, testing well at Station # 5., 1907

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#21 Electric Water Company machine shop, 1907

Electric Water Company machine shop, 1907

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#22 Electric Water Company Substation, 1907

Electric Water Company Substation, 1907

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#23 Business district Lost Hills, 1906

Business district Lost Hills, 1906

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#24 Fig orchard near Bakersfield, 1907

Fig orchard near Bakersfield, 1907

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#25 Three men riding in an automobile and trailers for hauling cement, 1906

Three men riding in an automobile and trailers for hauling cement, 1906

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#26 Kern River #1 – The Cow Creek flume after repairs, October 1907.

Kern River #1 - The Cow Creek flume after repairs, October 1907.

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#27 Downtown Bakersfield during a holiday parade, 1907. Shows buildings, crowd, American flags, Chinese-American portion of the parade.

Downtown Bakersfield during a holiday parade, 1907. Shows buildings, crowd, American flags, Chinese-American portion of the parade.

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#28 A wagon filled with people and decorated with flowers for a holiday parade, 1906

A wagon filled with people and decorated with flowers for a holiday parade, 1906

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#29 rawford Hotel on left, Hochheimer Building on right, 1903

rawford Hotel on left, Hochheimer Building on right, 1903

Corner of Tehama and Sycamore Streets, Willows, CA. Hochheimer Building erected until 1891, mercantile store. Branches in Orland, Germantown, and Bakersfield.

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#30 Fresno, J Street,1906

Fresno, J Street,1906

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#31 Chamber of Commerce, 1903

Chamber of Commerce, 1903

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#32 Selma Grammar School, 1906

Selma Grammar School, 1906

View of front and left side of the east side (Garfield) grammar school, built in 1906 on land bounded by Arrants, B & Tulare Streets and McCall Road. Architecture is a Roman style with two-story columns crossing front entrance.

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#33 Madera County Jail, 1902

Madera County Jail, 1902

Shows concrete and brick building with round tower on right. Four men stand at entrance.Jail was built in 1888 on property bounded by Gateway Drive, Yosemite Ave, H Street and Sixth Street.

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#34 Kern County oilfield, 1902

Kern County oilfield, 1902

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#35 Construction of the Mechanics Savings Bank building, 1906

Construction of the Mechanics Savings Bank building, 1906

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#36 Canal construction, Rocky hillside, 1908

Canal construction, Rocky hillside, 1908

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#37 Department Store Redlick, Bakersfiled, 1906

Department Store Redlick, Bakersfiled, 1906

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#38 Kern County No. 1 Hydroelectric System, Powerhouse Exciters, Kern River Canyon, Bakersfiled, 1904

Kern County No. 1 Hydroelectric System, Powerhouse Exciters, Kern River Canyon, Bakersfiled, 1904

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#39 Bakersfield home, 1901

Bakersfield home, 1901

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#40 King Lumber SE block at Niles Street and Union Avenue, Bakersfiled, 1910

King Lumber SE block at Niles Street and Union Avenue, Bakersfiled, 1910

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#41 Kern Island canal head gate, 2,5 miles of Bakersfield, 1909

Kern Island canal head gate, 2,5 miles of Bakersfield, 1909

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Written by Aung Budhh

Husband + Father + librarian + Poet + Traveler + Proud Buddhist. I love you with the breath, the smiles and the tears of all my life.

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