Jeff Dunlap has fond memories of growing up in Westchester. He remembers riding his bike on the streets, playing at the local park with his friends, swimming at the racquet club in the summer.

He remembers Fourth of July, when a local parade wound through the neighborhood, and Christmas, when the big Hopple House on Elm Street twinkled with lights.

Now 25 and married, Dunlap bought his own home in Westchester three years ago.

"I wanted to stay in the neighborhood," he said.

"I think it's a nice place to raise a family," his wife, Katie, said later.

Families have been making memories in Westchester for generations -- but exactly where is Westchester? Debate over the boundaries of the neighborhood has long persisted.

According to historian Chris Brewer, the real Westchester is west of F Street and north of 24th Street. Homes there were first developed in 1948, with Riviera Westchester added in the 1960s.

Over the years, the neighborhood has grown, at least in popular conversation.

Westchester is now generally referred to as the area between F Street on the east, Oak Street on the west, the railroad tracks just south of Truxtun Avenue and Golden State Avenue to the north.

Regardless of its boundaries, Westchester, like Oleander and Old Stockdale, is a quaint neighborhood replete with picket fences and swings dangling from tree limbs.

It's no surprise that when people move to Westchester, they tend to stay. When families move, it's often to another house in the neighborhood. Sometimes it's a bigger house, or their dream home became available.

"It's a love affair to live in Westchester," said local resident Bettina Belter, who in 26 years, has moved twice within Westchester.

Belter and her husband, Gary, are the fifth owners of a five-bedroom, four-bathroom house built in 1952. She likes that the house is u-shaped, with a patio in the middle, and that it sits on a large property, offering privacy.

Belter grew up in nearby Oleander. When she moved Westchester, it felt like home.

The Belters have no plans to leave Westchester any time soon, unless beachfront properly suddenly becomes available in Bakersfield.

"It's home," she said. "We want to be here."

Betty Cooper has lived in Westchester -- in the same house no less -- since 1957.

"It's a very quiet neighborhood," said Cooper, 83.

She also appreciates that it's a close-knit community. When her husband, Wim, passed away, her immediate neighbors gave her their cellular phone numbers. Call if you need anything, they told her. One neighbor takes her garbage to the curb -- without being asked.

Cooper's two-story home was built in 1939 by Malcolm Brock, of the old Brock's department store on Chester Avenue.

It's a spacious house, with four bedrooms, five original bathrooms, a winding staircase in the entryway, a sun porch and balcony. There's also a room in the back where the maid would have slept. The Coopers turned it into an office.

Cooper's favorite room is the dining room "because that's where we had our family gatherings," she said. The Coopers raised three children in this house.

She can't put her finger on the house's architectural style but with the wrought iron accents, it reminds her of buildings in New Orleans.

The house draws attention, especially in the spring when the azaleas in the yard are in full bloom.

Art teacher Joyce Tanner once had a woman she didn't know park her car outside her house in Westchester, walk up to the house and peer inside through a window. When Tanner asked her business, the woman said, "I just love old houses. Can I come in?"

Tanner's home was built in 1919. She's been told that at the time, there was a slough across the street and Oak Street was a just a "little dirt road," she said. She's also been told the Kern County Land Company built houses in her immediate neighborhood for its foremen.

Tanner's house features an old-fashioned sleeping room, with walls of windows, a screen door in the back bedroom, wood floors and crown molding. A previous owner turned the back porch into a breakfast nook.

In general, Tanner has tried to maintain her home's architectural integrity, a value shared by her neighbors. She repainted the house's white shingles to their original dark brown.

Tanner, who has lived in Westchester since 1981, likes that in this neighborhood, virtually every house has a unique look. These aren't tract homes.

Some homes in Westchester are referred to by historical owners' names.

The home at 20th and B streets is referred to as the Jameson House. A two-story brick home with an enclosed porch and former servant quarters in the back, the house was built in 1909 for John M. Jameson and his wife, Charlotte Baker, the daughter of Col. Thomas Baker, Bakersfield's founding father.

Billy and Leslie Thompson live in the Hopple House.

Ed Hopple and his family lived in the house for 26 years, Leslie said. He is known for the great parties he threw at the house and for decorating it with lots of lights at Christmas -- a tradition the Thompsons have continued.

The Thompsons always admired the house. It was built around 1938 for farmer A.H. Karpe, who apparently was the first person in Kern County to buy a cow for $50,000.

It is a magnificent home, measuring more than 5,700 square feet. There are four bedrooms, each with its own vanity room and bathroom. Brick pillars and a gate flank the front yard, which, like the backyard, is quite large.

"We enjoy the flavor of the house because that's our taste but we're not comfortable with people calling it a mansion," said Billy, a mortgage banker.

The Thompsons have filled the house with antiques, a passion of theirs.

Lamar Kerley has lived in Westchester since the early 1980s.

"It's the only neighborhood with big, wide streets and the huge trees," said Kerley, who works for the county. "The streets are so broad, all the time there are people walking dogs or baby carriages."

The neighborhood draws a lot of trick-or-treaters on Halloween. Tanner gives out 300 to 500 pieces of candy by nightfall.

Kerley's house was built in 1929 by someone who lived on the street. The house's old-fashioned features include a telephone nook and a space in the back where the milk man would have left bottles of milk.

Kerley was told a former Bakersfield High School principal grew up in the house.

An avid gardener, Kerley removed most of the lawn and added 52 rose bushes and flowering perennials over the years. He also installed two ponds. One has six turtles in it.

Kerley is quite content living in Westchester and joked he will only leave on a stretcher.

No neighborhood, though, is perfect. Westchester residents don't like the traffic that cuts through to 24th Street and that drivers sometimes speed. The streets' deep rain gutters occasionally catch them by surprise. More than once, Kerley has picked up a bumper or muffler from the rain gutter in front of his house.

The advantages to living in Westchester, though, seem to outweigh any disadvantages.

Dunlap, an equipment salesman, likes that it's centrally located. He can get anywhere in town in about 25 minutes.

His wife, Katie, a first-grade teacher, is fond of the many big trees in the neighborhood.

In Westchester, trees tower over homes and roots buckle up sidewalks. Cooper and her husband built their kids a treehouse when they were young. Even some streets in Westchester, like Spruce and Myrtle, are named for trees.

It's a leafy place.

"That's why you live in the neighborhood," Billy Thompson said.