The oldest remaining McDonald’s is in Downey, California, outside of Los Angeles.
As a journalist and fast food enthusiast, I had to stop by on a recent trip to the West Coast.
Despite his household name, he is almost unrecognizable as part of the chain today.
This location opened in 1953 and was the fourth McDonald’s ever built.
Source: THE Conservancy
From the street, the building lacks most of the typical McDonald’s symbols.
There are golden arches, but they are quite different from what I’m used to seeing, with one on each side.
The restaurant is really more like a burger stand, where customers can walk up and order from the window.
I ordered from the window and waited for my food.
A sign was posted next to the counter detailing the history of the site.
Some tables and chairs were outside the building, but I chose to step out of the sun.
I brought my food to the little covered area of the building next to the main counter, which was set up like a museum.
The museum area was surrounded by windows all around and open to the outside.
White tables and floating red seats looked like vintage fast food and felt appropriate,
The center of the building was full of McDonald’s memorabilia, with more seats at the counter.
I sat down to eat my Egg McMuffin surrounded by fast food history.
Others were certainly there to soak up the history too. I was not the only one taking pictures.
There were several framed photos of this place from the 1950s and 1960s.
Photos, drawings and bits of McDonald’s history told the story of the chain from its founding in 1948 to a multi-billion dollar business today.
From the main area I entered another room of McDonald’s history through what looked like bank vault doors.
Information about original CEO Ray Kroc and early franchisees was posted on every wall.
The Downey McDonald’s was like a crash course in McDonald’s history.
This is a must visit for anyone who cares about fast food history.
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