Take a moment to think about what makes McDonald's stand out from other fast-food chains. Perhaps it's one of the chain's signature meals such as the Big Mac, or maybe it's the brand's legendary World Famous Fries. But for those living outside of the U.S., the real unique identifier is the chain's quintessential golden arches.
The first McDonald's location opened in San Bernardino, California in 1940, featuring a drive-in and car hop service. That single restaurant became a chain just eight years after, and today, there are over 38,000 locations in 119 countries. While many of the original McDonald's have since closed, a few long-standing locations remain, and a select few of them still have the single McDonald's arch designed by the company's first franchising agent, Ray Kroc.
New Jersey 101.5 recently reported that there are only seven McDonald's locations with the original single arch left in the world. But after some thorough research, we ended up finding 12 locations across 12 states that still have the retro, single arch sign sitting outside of the restaurant.
In order to source the McDonald's locations that still have the original, single arch sign, we referred to the website RoadsideArchitecture.com as a starting point. Then, by sorting through old articles, we were able to pinpoint the addresses and phone numbers of the oldest McDonald's locations in the United States. We called each location to confirm that the original sign still remains.
Here are the 12 McDonald's locations in the United States that still sport that vintage sign after all these years. And for more retro faves, be sure to check out these 15 Classic American Desserts That Deserve a Comeback.
According to RoadsideArchitecture, McDonald's first introduced the Speedee character—as seen on this sign in Downey, California—in 1948, who was the mascot for the "Speedee Service System." Speedee preceded Ronald McDonald, who became the official mascot in 1963. The Downey, California location opened in 1953 and was the fourth McDonald's ever built. Today, it's the oldest surviving location and the original single-arch sign remains. (Related: Sign up for our newsletter for more fun food facts.)
One of the employees at this Monstrose location says the restaurant has been around for 48 years. (Related: 30 Crazy McDonald's Facts That Will Blow Your Mind.)
Green Bay, Wisconsin
The Green Bay Historic Preservation Commission awarded "historical status" to this location's vintage sign in 2002.
An employee at the original Muncie location said the restaurant has been in operation since 1958.
Similar to the sign in front of the Downey, California location, the retro sign at the McDonald's in Lewistown, Idaho also showcases the original mascot, Speedee.
Magnolia, New Jersey
The McDonald's restaurant in Magnolia is the only location in the state of New Jersey to have the original sign. (Related: 50 Biggest Myths About McDonald's Food.)
Winter Haven, Florida
You can tell the sign at this location has been renovated, not only because it looks glossy but because it has the caption "Over 99 Billion Sold." Evidently, McDonald's stopped counting how many burgers it sold after 1994.
The original single-arch sign still stands in front of this renovated McDonald's location, and it's also one of the few to not have italicized letters.
Pine Bluff, Arkansas
In 2006, this sign was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.
Of the three McDonald's locations in Warren, Michigan—which are all located on Van Dyke Ave—the location at 27480 Van Dyke Ave has the original sign.
South Houston, Texas
Notice this original sign outside of a location in South Houston, Texas was updated with a digital screen.
Last but not least, Independence, Missouri is one of the only locations in the world to still have Ray Kroc's original design.
For more, check out 13 Long-Lost Foods from the '70s That Will Stoke Your Nostalgia.