McDonald's Signs

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McDonald's sign
Huntsville, AL (now Cincinnati, OH)
McDonald's sign
Green Bay, WI
McDonald's developed the Speedee character in 1948 as the mascot for the company's "Speedee Service System". In 1963, Ronald McDonald was introduced as the company's new mascot. It's not clear when the company stopped using the Speedee character. Some sources say he was replaced in signs in 1962 with a golden arch logo. The character was definitely no longer used by 1967. Speedee was brought back in recent years for retro signs and building designs. Once commonplace, the only three vintage neon signs left at operating McDonald's locations are in Green Bay, Muncie, and Downey (see next page). Three other examples of these signs are on display at museums (see below). The Des Plaines sign (see next page) was supposedly original but it looked like a replica to me.

The vintage McDonald's in Huntsville was remarkably well-preserved and lit at night. The sign was built in 1963. The building itself was replaced with a more modern design. A car crashed into the sign in 2007 and damaged it. In 2008, there were plans to renovate the building. Local sign restrictions prohibited the sign from being moved from its original position. A local museum could not raise the funds to acquire the sign. Later that year, the sign was removed and is now on display at the American Sign Museum in Cincinnati, OH. The museum restored the neon, including the vertical tubing that was originally behind Speedee. Damage to the porcelain panels was also repaired. The cost to move and repair the sign was about $30,000. For more, see these websites: 1 and 2.

The vintage McDonald's sign in Green Bay was restored in 2005. This location was built in 1958 or 1959. The building was replaced with a modern one. In 2010, that building was replaced with a retro building. [map]

McDonald's sign [gone]
Biloxi, MS
ca. 1998:
This McDonald's opened in 1962. The sign survived Hurricane Camille in 1969 but the original building did not. In 2005, the sign was severely damaged by Hurricane Katrina. It was later replaced with a modern sign. [top photo thanks Rich Kummerlowe]

McDonald's sign [gone]
Lebanon, IN
McDonald's sign
Muncie, IN
This McDonald's sign in Lebanon was originally at a location in Lafayette, IN. It was saved and moved to this site in the mid-1990s. But by 2000, it was gone again.

This McDonald's sign in Muncie was installed in 1958 when this location was built. The sign was restored in 2006 and has fully-functioning, animated neon. In 2013, the sign was completely restored. For more, see this website. [map]

McDonald's sign [gone]
Holts Summit, MO
McDonald's sign
Stuart, FL
McDonald's sign
Fort Lauderdale, FL
The McDonald's sign in Holts Summit was originally located in nearby Jefferson City, MO. It was restored and installed on a huge pole at this modern location. The wording on the sign was changed to say "originally was" 15 cents and that the bottom part of the arch was chopped off. In 2011, this sign was removed and replaced with a modern plastic one.

The McDonald's sign in Stuart is modern. Some obvious differences between this sign and the vintage ones are how narrow the sign is with a smaller text panel, the missing neon tubing behind the Speedee panel, and the solid panel above his raised arm. Note also the "110 Billion Served" while the vintage signs stopped counting at 99 Billion. [map]

The McDonald's sign in Fort Lauderdale is also modern. It has been there since at least 2007. [map]

There is second modern McDonald's sign like this one in Fort Lauderdale.

McDonald's sign
Topeka, KS
Mason City, IA
former McDonald's
San Bernardino, CA
This McDonald's sign in Topeka was built in 1961 for the first McDonald's in Topeka which was the second location built in Kansas. In 1981, the restaurant building was replaced with a new one and the sign was donated to the Kansas State Historical Society. The colorful top part of the sign is displayed at the Kansas Museum of History. For more, see this website. [photo thanks Glenda Campbell]

This McDonald's sign in Mason City is installed at the back of the parking lot of an operating McDonald's. It is a unique mix of styles. The text part of this sign is apparently from an old Speedee style sign. The top part of the sign is the newer "Skinny M" type like those shown at the bottom of this page. The other side of this sign has neon and is lit at night. Does anyone know the story behind this sign? For more, see this website. [map]

This McDonald's sign in San Bernardino stands at the site of the first McDonald's restaurant which opened in 1948. In 1953, the original building was replaced with the classic double arches design. The red panel of this sign is apparently all that's left of the sign that was installed then. In 1962, after the chain was sold to Ray Kroc, this location changed its name to Big M and the sign was altered. In 1972, the double arches building was demolished. A music store was built on the site in 1974. In 1998, that building was converted into a McDonald's Museum, of sorts. Without permission from the McDonald's Corporation, it is known as the Unofficial McDonald's Museum. The museum is actually owned by Juan Pollo Restaurants. For more, see these websites: 1 and 2. [map]

Lapeer, MI
Oshkosh, WI
This McDonald's sign in Lapeer is a retro, modern creation. Note the compressed double arch behind Speedee. There was another sign like this in Dearborn Heights, MI. I don't know of any other McDonald's signs like these. [map]

This McDonald's sign in Oshkosh is also a scaled-down, modern plastic version of the old Speedee signs. This location opened in the 1990s or early 2000s. [map]

There are other modern signs out there that feature single arches and Speedee like these in Bethlehem, PA and Mount Ephraim, NJ. Note that the arch is not the same shape and does not have neon at the top. The Speedee figure is placed on a disk and is not freestanding.

Baton Rouge, LA
Anniston, AL
These McDonald's signs in Baton Rouge and Anniston were developed in 1968. These "V-shaped" signs (my term) were either produced in a small quantity and/or there are only a few left. Apparently, they were only built until the early 1970s. [Anniston map]

The Baton Rouge building still has the mansard roof which were built at that time. In 2008, the sign still had what appeared to be the original three red plastic panels. By 2011, the current red panel was in place. [map]

Kansas City, KS
This McDonald'ssign with the vacuum form plastic letters in the background is probably from the 1970s. These are very rare now. The unusual building design also has a beveled letter sign. [map]

There are a couple of other signs like this in Newton, NJ and Methuen, MA. If you know of any others, I'd love to hear about them.

More Speedee Signs:
Moline, IL [vintage; gone]
Ford Museum (Dearborn, MI)
Southgate, MI [vintage; gone]
Crestwood, MO [vintage; gone]

More "V-Shaped" McDonald's Signs
Branford, CT
Mission, KS [gone]
Needham, MA
Aberdeen, MD [gone]
Laurel, MD [gone]
Taylor, MI
Bellingham, WA
Green Bay, WI

The single arch, "crest" signs shown below were only produced from 1961-1963. The crests represented the McDonald family crest. The red panels with white McDonald's letters and the white panels with black letters appear to have been built simultaneously. The double arch "Skinny M" signs, see below, were introduced later in 1962.

Winter Haven, FL
McDonald's [gone]
Lakeland, FL
McDonald's [gone]
Springfield, IL
This McDonald's location in Winter Haven opened in 1963 and is one of the best-preserved examples of these crest signs. I don't know which came first: those with white or red "Hamburgers" panels. [map]

This McDonald's crest sign in Lakeland is gone now. This photo is from 2005.

The McDonald's crest sign in Springfield has since been replaced with a modern one.

McDonald's [gone]
Belleville, IL
McDonald's [gone]
Joplin, MO
Warren, MI
The McDonald's sign in Belleville appeared to be the same style sign but without the crests on the top panel. It still had "McDonald's" in italics until around 2013 when another panel with non-italics letters replaced it. The bottom panel was also replaced by 1996 with one reading "We Value Bellville." This location closed in 2023 and the sign was removed. For more, see this website.

The McDonald's crest sign in Joplin was installed at the back of the parking lot while a more modern sign was installed near the road. The crest sign appeared to be a reproduction. The horizontal panel of the sign was single-sided and affixed to the front of the arch, without the white mid-section. The arch itself did not have the sections of the original crest signs. This photo is from 2010. By 2013, this McDonald's building had been remodeled or rebuilt and this sign was gone.

The lower panel on the McDonald's crest sign in Warren was apparently replaced with a message board at some point. I have never seen another one of these signs with that feature. This photo is from 2011. In 2015, the sign was temporarily removed and put on concrete bases. [map]

Independence, MO
McDonald's [gone]
Lancaster, PA
Magnolia, NJ
The Independence and Lancaster signs have apparently had letter panels replaced over the years. The "McDo" panel on the Independence sign is composed of two panels while all the other signs use one panel for those letters. [map]

The Lancaster sign was installed in 1962. It is composed of three shades of red. In 2016, the sign was donated to a collector who plans to open a McDonald's Museum in Pennsylvania.

The Magnolia sign was built in 1961. It was originally located about a mile away. When that location closed in 1996, the sign was moved to its current location. Although there is now a modern building, this sign remains. For more, see this website. [map]

McDonald's [gone]
Akron, OH
Pine Bluff, AR
The McDonald's sign in Akron appeared to have been updated somewhat when this photo was taken in 2007. The crests were replaced with McDonald's logos. By 2009, the McDonald's building was updated and this sign was replaced with a new one.

The McDonald's in Pine Bluff opened in 1962 as location #433. It was the first location in Pine Bluff and one of the first in Arkansas. The double-arched building was replaced in the 1970s but the sign remained. In 2007, the sign was moved to a new location in town. The sign is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. For more, see this website. [map]

More McDonald's Crest Signs:
St. Clair Shores, MI [map]
Hazelwood, MO [gone]
Penn Hills, PA [vintage; gone]
McLean, VA [gone]

If you know of any other surviving crest signs, please let me know.

I believe these "Skinny M" double arch signs were built from 1962 until at least the 1970s. While they are getting rarer, there are still at least a few dozen left around the country at this point. The ones shown here are just a sampling. Just about all of the locations' mansard roof buildings which accompanied these signs have been updated.

McDonald's [gone]
Austin, MN
Westland, MI
Tacoma, WA

McDonald's [gone]
San Jose, CA
Yuba City, CA
Orange, CA
Santa Maria, CA
Whittier, CA
McDonald's [gone]
Bangor, ME
Middletown, CT
Milford, CT
Freehold, NJ
Northampton, MA
Topeka, KS
2010: 2023:
McDonald's sign
Little Rock, AR
McDonald's sign
Salt Lake City, UT
Reno, NV
Richmond, IN
McDonald's [gone]
Muncie, IN
North Syracuse, NY
This Austin sign must have been older than the others since it still had the capability of changing the number of "Billions Served". This photo is from 2008. The location was modernized by 2016 and this sign was removed.

[Westland map]

The Tacoma sign is the most interesting since it reads "Restaurant" rather than "Hamburgers." I believe the "Hamburgers" letters are from the early 1960s. Like some of the other signs shown above, the "McDonald's" letters are beveled rather than flat. The beveled letter signs are a later version of the "Skinny M" signs, probably from the late 1960s. There is another one like this in Renton, WA. I think the older sign panels were swapped for the "Restaurant" panels later on. The Tacoma location also features a vintage looking beveled pole sign. I have not seen any other signs like this. [map]

The San Jose sign read "Drive-Thru" instead of "Hamburgers." This location and sign were demolished in 2017. There is another "Skinny M" sign at a different location in San Jose.

[Yuba City map], [Orange map]

The Santa Maria sign has apparently been remodeled. The "M" panels are not segmented and are flat. The McDonald's letters are beveled but the "Hamburgers" letters are missing. [map]

The Whittier sign's "M" is also not segmented and the "Billions and Billions" wording is missing. Both the text panel and the "M" panels have been replaced. The text panel was replaced when the mansard style building was replaced with a new boxy style building. [map]

The Bangor and Muncie signs have been removed and replaced with modern signs.

[Middletown map], [Milford map], [Freehold map], [Northampton map]

By 2013, the Topeka sign panels were changed. The sign no longer reads "Hamburgers," "Drive-Thru," or "Billions and Billions Served." [map]

The Little Rock sign was built around 1970. This may be the only "Skinny M" left that had the word "Drive-Thru" instead of "Hamburgers." In 2023, the sign panels had been replaced with flat plastic versions with only the word "McDonald's" like the Salt Lake City sign. [map]

The Salt Lake City sign panels were replaced at some point. In 2007, the panels had letters for "RESTAURANT." By 2021, the panels looked like this photo from 2022. [map]

[Reno map]

[Richmond map]

The North Syracuse location has two of these signs: one at both sides of the lot's entrances. [map]

More McDonald's Skinny M Signs:
San Bernardino, CA [gone]
Danbury, CT
Groton, CT
Meriden, CT
Norwalk, CT
Vernon, CT
Waterbury, CT
Windham, CT
Athens, GA [gone]
Quincy, IL
Hopkinsville, KY
Lexington, KY [map]
Boston, MA
St. Charles, MO [gone]
Gastonia, NC
Newington, NH
Edgewater Park, NJ
Oswego, NY
Rome, NY
Westbury, NY
Akron, OH
Bensalem, PA
Scranton, PA
Clarksville, TN
Eastridge, TN [gone]
Annandale, VA
Falls Church, VA
Kamloops, BC
Richmond, BC

If you know of any other examples of these signs, I'd love to hear from you.

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(page 2)
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