Los Banos Downtown Association is a non-profit 501-c3 organization that works with the downtown businesses and property owners. The primary responsibility of the association is to oversee and generate activities in the downtown, to assist the downtown merchants and business owner in order to attract people to shop and do business in the downtown.
The Los Banos Downtown Association is an information center for not only the downtown but the whole community. Marketing is a major duty of the downtown organization; making sure that directory information is provided to the businesses in the downtown region. It is important to develop events, training opportunities and other programs that enhance the downtown experience. The Board of Directors and staff work continuously on the redevelopment projects for downtown Los Banos.
In order to keep the downtown community informed of all activities, the downtown website will be a major part of the marketing program. It will allow the community to market through advertising and posting of events that each member and non-member may want to share.
Los Banos Downtown offers the historic commercial environment of yesterday while offering the modern needs of today. The streets are lined with trees and as you stroll the downtown you will find a diversified cultural climate. Top restaurants are available, with choices of outdoor or indoor dining, fabulous little one-of-a-kind shops, and music on the streets.
The environment of the buildings holds the history of the community and the colors enhance the architecture of the past. The art culture that is brought into the mix enhances the beauty of the surroundings and tells the story of the history to the present.
The city of Los Banos is full of Americana and western history formed from the bases of two towns “Old Los Banos” and “Central Point”. In the early 1800’s a Franciscan monk named Padre Felipe Arroyo de la Cuesta was living at the Mission San Juan Bautista. He used to visit the native Indians living in the Central Valley and would travel by foot over the Pacheco Pass. He would stop and rest at the pools of water flowing through a rocky canyon and take a bath. the creek was called, “El Arroyo de Los Banos del Padre Arroyo”. That phrase was too long for most people so they just called it, Los Banos Creek.
Much later after the Franciscan monk passed away, a man named Gus Kreyenhagen established a trading post near the creek. The Postal service needed a name for the area and Los Banos (meaning the Spring Baths) was chosen.
Henry Miller, a butcher from Germany, by way of New York, made his way West setting up shop in San Francisco during the rich and bustling time of the gold rush. Henry Miller’s love of beef and adventure lead him to search for the best cattle in California. Miller’s search would lead him to the Central Valley across the Pacheco Pass. He met Charles Lux, helped extend the railroad and create the canal irrigation system we currently have.
The creation of the Canal Ranch and the land purchased by Henry Miller and Charles Lux would lead to the creation of the grandest downtown on the Westside of Merced County. The partnership of Miller and Lux plus the arrival of the railroad would entice farmers and families to create a three-story downtown with electricity and grand opera house. Miller and Lux would create the first general store that would be the hit market from clothes to feed and currently is the office of the Los Banos Downtown Association and many former merchants that have taken up the mantel.
The face and architecture of Los Banos downtown has taken many phases from the reconstruction after the 1906 earthquake to the fire that would burn down the magnificent opera house. The resilience of both Miller and Lux would lead to the reconstruction of many building and bringing the Bank of Italy into the community. Once the 20th century took hold multiple families would help boost and inspire the local economy.
For many years the downtown was bigger than the population of Los Banos and was more the stop for all citizens of the Westside of Merced County. The San Luis Dam project would change the population and drive the number of people of Los Banos to almost double overnight. With more people, the need for growth and a change was apparent. New shops and department stores would move into downtown to service the growing population. With groups like the Odd Fellows building a two-story building, lots with retail on the first floor like Safeway, JC Pennys, and many local stores from hardware to specialty stores began to flourish.
These founding fathers and mothers would continue great traditions and bring the annual May Day Parade (currently call the Merced County Spring Fair Parade) to downtown, which at one time was the 2nd largest parade in all of the nation rivaled only by the Rose Bowl Parade. From May Day celebrations to Fourth of July Parades Los Banos has been known to be a hot spot to gather for over a 100 years.
Los Banos is located on the Westside of Merced County and is the home to a population of 40,047 citizens.