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 Huntsville sign 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, the sign was taken down and is now on display at the American Sign Museum in Cincinnati, OH. For more, see these websites: 1 and 2.

The vintage Green Bay sign 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. For more, see this website. [map]

McDonald's sign [gone]
Lebanon, IN
McDonald's sign
Muncie, IN
McDonald's sign [gone]
Holts Summit, MO
This Lebanon sign 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 Muncie sign 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]

This Holts Summit sign 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. For more, see this website.

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
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 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, 2, and 3. [map]

Lapeer, MI
Oshkosh, WI
This Lapeer sign 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 Oshkosh sign 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 (gone). 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.

More Speedee Signs:
Ford Museum (Dearborn, MI)

Winter Haven, FL
McDonald's [gone]
Lakeland, FL
McDonald's [gone]
Springfield, IL
Belleville, IL
McDonald's [gone]
Joplin, MO
This McDonald's location in Winter Haven features a single arch, "crest" sign. These signs were only produced in 1962. The crests were the McDonald family crest. The double arch "M" signs were introduced later in 1962. [map]

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

The Springfield crest sign has since been replaced with a modern one.

The Belleville sign appears to be the same style sign but without the crests. The font on that panel is also not italics like the other signs. That panel was probably replaced at the same time that the bottom panel was changed to read "We Value Bellville." For more, see this website. [map]

The Joplin crest sign 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.

Warren, MI
Independence, MO
McDonald's [gone]
Lancaster, PA

Magnolia, NJ
McDonald's [gone]
Akron, OH

Pine Bluff, AR
The lower panel on the Warren crest sign was apparently replaced with a message board at some point. This photo is from 2011. The sign was removed and rebuilt in the same style in 2015. [map]

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. The Lancaster sign was installed in 1962. It is composed of three shades of red. Note that some of these crest signs have red "Hamburgers" panels while others are white. I don't know which came first. In 2016, the sign was donated to a collector who plans to open a McDonald's Museum in Pennsylvania. [Independence map]

The Magnolia sign 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]

The Akron sign 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 Pine Bluff McDonald's 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]

McDonald's [gone]
Austin, MN
Westland, MI
Tacoma, WA
McDonald's [gone]
San Jose, CA
Yuba City, CA
McDonald's [gone]
Bangor, ME
Middletown, CT
Milford, CT
Freehold, NJ
Northampton, MA
Topeka, KS
Richmond, IN
McDonald's [gone]
Muncie, IN
North Syracuse, NY
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 have been updated while these vintage signs remain.

The 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." Like some of the other signs shown above, the "McDonald's" letters are beveled rather than flat. 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]

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

[Middletown map], [Milford map], [Freehold map], [Northampton map], [Topeka 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
If you know of any other examples of these signs, I'd love to hear from you. I think it's time to start a list here since these signs are rapidly disappearing at this point.
Little Rock, AR
Buena Park, CA
Orange, CA
Groton, CT
Meriden, CT
Waterbury, CT
Windham, CT
Hopkinsville, KY
Lexington, KY [map]
Gastonia, NC
Newington, NH
Edgewater Park, NJ
Rome, NY
Westbury, NY
Bensalem, PA
Clarksville, TN
Falls Church, VA

Other Vintage McDonald's Signs
Branford, CT
Needham, MA
Taylor, MI

McDonald's Buildings
(page 1)
McDonald's Buildings
(page 2)
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