Place Category: Park or Playground
Hart Memorial Park is a large public park in Kern County, California. It is located just north of Bakersfield . The park is, and contains two lakes and three canals. It was named after County Supervisor John Hart, who spearheaded the project. Constructed between 1921 and 1936, it is the oldest section of the Kern River County Park.
The origins of the park date back to 1921, when County Supervisor John Hart, convinced the county to purchase land along the Kern River, east of Gordon’s Ferry. The goal was to create a large recreation park, which residents could use to escape the summer heat. Landscape Architect Howard Gilkey, from Oakland, California, was hired to create the general plan for the park. Famous for designing water features, Gilkey made extensive use of the adjacent Kern River. Several canals and lakes were designed. Construction began shortly after the property was acquired. Development proceeded slowly, since the county did not appropriate funds. Instead, Hart relied largely on private donations for materials and volunteer labor. Almost every non-profit service club would participate in the effort. Several sponsored a grove of trees, providing landscaping and irrigation. These groves were originally marked with plaques recognizing these organization, however, years of vandalism have destroyed many of them. Although the park was laid out according to Gilkey’s master plan, most of the construction work was done without formal engineering plans. Streets, lakes, canals, and buildings were instead constructed “by ear.” Several buildings from other parts of Bakersfield were also moved to the park. Because of the limited funding, one of the primary building material used was river rocks from the Kern River Canyon (which were free). They were used in the construction of fire rings, barbecues, drinking fountains, and the double decker bandstand (with drinking fountains on the lower level).