Bakersfield Electric Railway streetcar map, 1921
Even the smallest towns in the early 20th century had a streetcar system. Bakersfield, then a tiny railway town of 15,000 in the Central Valley of California, had a four-line system which was born out of municipal competition. At the time, the City of Bakersfield was in a small battle with the mammoth Southern Pacific Railroad, which had decided to bypass Bakersfield and to build its station in rival Kern City, two miles away. The City of Bakersfield's solution was to find a private company to build a streetcar system to connect the rival Santa Fe Railroad station in Bakersfield proper with the Southern Pacific station two miles outside of town. Today, greater Bakersfield has 850,000 residents, but no mass transit; most of the metropolis is postwar suburban sprawl.
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