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CSUB alumna: How the streets of Bakersfield got their name

Lori Wear at 60+ Club

They honor the city's pioneers. They reflect what it grows. One is meant to clear up confusion.

The names of the streets of Bakersfield have, in many cases, a good story behind them. And on Thursday, Lori Wear, curator of collections at the Kern County Museum and a CSUB alumna, shared them with the 60+ Club on campus.

Wear, whose local family roots go back multiple generations, is one of the go-to sources for Kern County history. She has a bachelor's degree in anthropology from CSUB and has worked at the museum for more than 19 years. 

Here are the stories Wear said are behind some of Bakersfield's most well-known roadways:

  • Bernard Street is named for James A. Bernard, co-owner of the Metropole Hotel.

  • Brundage Lane honors Judge Benjamin Brundage, an Ohio Army private who moved to Havilah and then Bakersfield when the latter became the county seat.

  • Calloway Drive gets its name from the Calloway Canal.

  • China Grade Loop’s name comes from the Chinese who picked watercress along the banks of the Kern River.

  • Castro Lane is named for the family of Thomas and Maria Castro. Mrs. Castro walked from Mexico to Bakersfield while pregnant. The family owned a ranch in the Castro Lane area.

  • Chester Avenue derives its name from the Chester Land Co., in turn named after brothers George and Julius Chester. George had a store at 19th Street and Chester Avenue.

  • Cottonwood Road, Dracena Street, Grapevine, Oak Street and Oleander Avenue reflect what grows in the area.

  • Edison Highway’s moniker comes from the area power plant.

  • Gosford Road is named for the 4th Earl of Gosford, who purchased land from the Kern County Land Co., though the company took it back and put a feedlot near Pacheco and Gosford.

  • Downing Avenue honors the family that owned the Downing Dairy.

  • Jewett Avenue pays tribute to Solomon Jewett, a bank owner who funded many businesses in town.

  • Old River Road follows the path of the Old River Channel of the Kern River.

  • Holtby Road, Houchin Road, Ming Avenue and Hughes Lane are named for families who owned property in the area.

  • White Lane recognizes John Wesley White, an early 4th District county supervisor.

  • Eye Street originally was I Street but was changed because people were confused during mail delivery whether something was an “I” or an “L.”

  • And why do so many streets have two names? Many were separate streets that were eventually joined, and some stretches are named to honor someone, Wear said.