New China Cafe walking tour

New China Cafe at 18th and R streets, circa 1920s. The architecture may appear familiar as the exterior has remained intact for its new tenant, Jasmine Nyree Day Center, a private child care/preschool facility. On Saturday, Ken Hooper will lead a walking tour featuring spots in downtown's "Eastchester."

Courtesy of Kern County Museum

You don't need the luck of the Irish to join Saturday's walking tour of downtown Bakersfield. But you may see some would-be leprechauns.

Bakersfield High School archiving teacher and president of the Kern County Historical Society Ken Hooper will take attendees on a tour of the eastern side of downtown, from Mexicali on 18th Street to the Confucius Church on 22nd Street. Along with spotting points of historical interest, it's possible you'll spot some early St. Paddy's revelers rolling into (or out) of the Silver Fox Starlite Lounge or other nearby downtown haunts.

Hooper said this tour is different than the last downtown one held, now exploring the area being called "Eastchester." Stops will include Sinaloa Restaurant, Jenks Tire Shop and CN Johnston’s coachworks, where pre-World War II school buses were made for Kern County, he said.

He wrote of other points of interest in an email: "It will touch briefly on old and new Chinatown, the cultural areas of people of Japanese ancestry in Bakersfield, the old Greyhound station ... Carpenter’s Hall and the continued role it plays in politics and its importance immediately after the 1952 earthquake."

The tour will start at Mexicali Restaurant then travel west on 18th Street to N Street, north to 22nd Street and wind its way back to the restaurant. Attendees are invited to enjoy a lunch on their own at Mexicali after the tour but are asked not to park in the Mexicali parking lot before the walk.

This event is free for Kern County Historical Society members. The KCHS will have a check-in table with name tags and a current membership roster. Students who are a part of local history school clubs can also attend for free. (Students who want to attend should email to provide the names of their local history club and adviser.) Nonmembers pay $10 and other students pay $5.

Stefani Dias can be reached at 661-395-7488. Follow her on Twitter at @realstefanidias.

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