The oldest McDonald’s in photos: signs, menu, history


The oldest remaining McDonald’s is in Downey, California, outside of Los Angeles.


Mary Meisenzahl / Insider


As a journalist and fast food enthusiast, I had to stop by on a recent trip to the West Coast.

Original McDonald's Downey CA


Mary Meisenzahl / Insider


Despite his household name, he is almost unrecognizable as part of the chain today.

Original McDonald's Downey CA


Mary Meisenzahl / Insider


This location opened in 1953 and was the fourth McDonald’s ever built.

Original McDonald's Downey CA


Mary Meisenzahl / Insider


Source: THE Conservancy

From the street, the building lacks most of the typical McDonald’s symbols.

Original McDonald's Downey CA


Mary Meisenzahl / Insider


There are golden arches, but they are quite different from what I’m used to seeing, with one on each side.

Original McDonald's Downey CA


Mary Meisenzahl / Insider


The restaurant is really more like a burger stand, where customers can walk up and order from the window.

Original McDonald's Downey CA


Mary Meisenzahl / Insider


I ordered from the window and waited for my food.

Original McDonald's Downey CA


Mary Meisenzahl / Insider


A sign was posted next to the counter detailing the history of the site.

Original McDonald's Downey CA


Mary Meisenzahl / Insider


Some tables and chairs were outside the building, but I chose to step out of the sun.

Original McDonald's Downey CA


Mary Meisenzahl / Insider


I brought my food to the little covered area of ​​the building next to the main counter, which was set up like a museum.

Original McDonald's Downey CA


Mary Meisenzahl / Insider


The museum area was surrounded by windows all around and open to the outside.

Original McDonald's Downey CA


Mary Meisenzahl / Insider


White tables and floating red seats looked like vintage fast food and felt appropriate,

Original McDonald's Downey CA


Mary Meisenzahl / Insider


The center of the building was full of McDonald’s memorabilia, with more seats at the counter.

Original McDonald's Downey CA


Mary Meisenzahl / Insider


I sat down to eat my Egg McMuffin surrounded by fast food history.

Original McDonald's Downey CA


Mary Meisenzahl / Insider


Others were certainly there to soak up the history too. I was not the only one taking pictures.

Original McDonald's Downey CA


Mary Meisenzahl / Insider


There were several framed photos of this place from the 1950s and 1960s.

Original McDonald's Downey CA


Mary Meisenzahl / Insider


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.

Original McDonald's Downey CA


Mary Meisenzahl / Insider


From the main area I entered another room of McDonald’s history through what looked like bank vault doors.

Original McDonald's Downey CA


Mary Meisenzahl / Insider


Information about original CEO Ray Kroc and early franchisees was posted on every wall.

Original McDonald's Downey CA


Mary Meisenzahl / Insider


The Downey McDonald’s was like a crash course in McDonald’s history.

Original McDonald's Downey CA


Mary Meisenzahl / Insider


This is a must visit for anyone who cares about fast food history.

Original McDonald's Downey CA


Mary Meisenzahl / Insider


Do you have a story to share about a chain of stores or restaurants? Email this reporter at [email protected]


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