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Bakersfield Off The Beaten Path: 34 reviews and 127 photos
Bakersfield may be the only U.S. city that had distinct Chinatowns at the same time. These were called Old and New Chinatown. Old Chinatown was located where Highway 178 today comes into downtown Bakersfield from the east, between K and N and 20th and 23rd streets. The only remains are China Alley, the Ying On Chinese Association building and the Confucius Church. The famous 1903 shootout between the outlaw Jim McKinney and lawman Will Tibbet (among others) took place there. New Chinatown was between Q and R and 17th and 19th, near the Bill Lee's and Rice Bowl restaurants. All that remains there is the Let Sing Gong Temple. The people in Old Chinatown and New Chinatown were from different districts in China and spoke different dialects -- and they didn't always get along. A small number of them settled near the Southern Pacific Railroad depot in the Old Town area.
Some Chinese also worked for Col. Thomas Baker, one of the founders of Bakersfield, as domestics, or farmed for him. He gave some of them plots of land to farm on their own. One of those plots belonged to Lee Guey and was across the street from where Sam Lynn Ball Park is today.
Chinese also participated in Kern County oil production in Oildale, Taft, Maricopa and McKittrick. In the 1890s and early 1900s, they farmed asphalt and oil out of tar pits. They also had businesses in the westside Chinatowns, were cooks in oil fields, and in one case, sold sheep to the oil workers. Some Chinese immigrants sold vegetables to oil workers on both the west side and Oildale~Ellen Miller of Kernville is co-author of "The Chinese of Kern County".
18th Street Bakersfield, CA 93301
Located at: Exit Highway 58 onto Chester Ave and once you pass under the railroad and Truxton, look for 18th street, turn right. Next to Mexicali Restaurant.
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