The Merced County Historical Society 2014 calendar features some popular historic images of the city, which capture the rise of consumer culture as a result of post-World War II economic expansion. Main Street in downtown Merced, known as 17th Street back in the era pictured above, was the center of commerce and culture in and around the 1950s. With the rise of modern shopping centers and strip malls, the downtown business district became just a memory to many longtime residents. Gone too were the warm summer nights spent watching cars go by and drinking root beer floats. Despite all the changes, the downtown area remains a key part of the city. And even a massive economic hit suffered by the city because of the Great Recession is slowly being overcome. Employment, real estate and other economic indicators are starting to show slow but steady improvement. As the new year begins, there’s optimism that the city’s history of growth and stability are returning. For those longing for the good old days, the Courthouse Museum still has a few of its calendars available to keep the memories of the past alive.