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5 McDonald’s

Des Plaines, Illinois
Stanley Meston, 1955

In Des Plaines, Illinois, McDonald’s has recreated Ray Kroc’s first store as a museum. Photo Credit: Courtesy of McDonald’s

Ray Kroc’s first McDonald’s drive-in restaurant, the year it opened (1955) Photo Credit: Courtesy of McDonald’s

The oldest existing McDonald’s restaurant still in operation (store #3, to be precise) is still serving customers in Downey, California. Photo Credit: Bryan Hong

When it opened, the building itself was prominently featured in promotions. Photo Credit: Courtesy of McDonald’s

Ray Kroc, hosing down the front walk of his first store, in an undated photo. Photo Credit: Courtesy of McDonald’s

Employees in front of Ray Kroc’s original McDonald’s. Photo Credit: Courtesy of McDonald’s

The red-and-white tile design dominated for almost 15 years, until a major redesign. Here, Ray Kroc and McDonald’s president Fred Turner review blueprints. Photo Credit: Courtesy of McDonald’s



In 1955, Ray Kroc, who had joined the McDonald’s brothers in their hamburger business the year before, opened his first McDonald’s drive-in restaurant in Des Plaines, Illinois.

Architect Stanley Meston had designed the building to be both attention-getting and functional, with its red-and-white glazed tile exterior and exterior benches. Indoor seating would not be introduced until 1962. The built-in golden arches and “Speedee” logo signage were part of the early iconography of this soon-to-be-ubiquitous structure.

By 1959, 100 McDonald’s restaurants were open nationally and by 1965, more than 700 had been built. The recognizable red-and-white tile design reigned until 1969, when the McDonald’s Corporation redesigned both its logo and its restaurant buildings.

Today there are more than 14,000 McDonald’s restaurants in the U.S., and more than 33,000 locations in 119 countries.