[Update February 1, 2012]: The site historicaerials.com contains historical satellite images going back to the 50's (these images are available for purchase on the site without the watermarks and at a higher resolution). For the McDonald's location, the earliest year available was from 1953 shown below (click to enlarge) with a red arrow to show the McDonalds site. Since this image is a top down satellite view, its hard to see any arches but its also possible no arches were present at the time this image was taken because McDonald's opened in October 1953.
The next available year was 1972 shown below which is difficult to determine the architecture type at that time. Also, there appears to have been something constructed on the sides of the buildings which was previously parking as shown in the 1953 image. By the late 60's, the golden arches were removed to transition to the low profile mansard roof and brick and shingle textures which is common today so its possible that this image does not contain the golden arches. On the very left side of this image, you can see the old Victory Drive In which I discussed in another BTTF post here.
This next image is from 1978 which you can see some kind of building transformation which definitely looks like the McDonalds today. So based on the comment from "Valley Guy", it appears that there was never a demolition as McDonalds simply built around the existing site probably to avoid lengthy downtimes and increased costs. This also explains why the restrooms are always accessed on the right side of the restaurant in a majority of the existing McDonald's location. I didnt bother with the other years available because there are obviously no differences. You can also see that the Victory Drive In is no longer present and has been converted into a strip mall. This has unfortunately become a stereotype of the Valley as this was way back in the 70's!
[Update August 31, 2011]: I received the following info in an email from "SJM" regarding the McDonalds site:
The “golden arches” on Victory Blvd, just west of Coldwater Canyon back in the 50s actually was not called McDonalds. It was called Peak’s. It looked exactly like McDonalds, and likely was the franchisee. But it had a different name. I remember the 11 cent burgers and 15 cent fries, or the other way around, and the milkshakes. It was next door to the Victory Drive in, where we’d go as little kids in the back of the station wagon. It was many years before it changed names. (and, as a throw away, there was a popular swim school across the street – and I could go on and on).[Original Post]
So I received a request for what was/is the first McDonald's in the San Fernando Valley. I was unsure and had to do some major researching. So here it is as requested:
Back To The Future Series #3: First McDonald's Restaurant in the San Fernando Valley
We are continuing the Back to the Future (BTTF) Series with this third installment. The first two which can be found at the tab above (Back To The Future Series) or below:
- 1940: Dick and Mac McDonald open McDonald's Bar-B-Que restaurant in San Bernardino.
- 1948: The McDonald's brothers shut down their restaurant and reopen as a self-service drive-in restaurant with $0.15 hamburgers.
- 1953: the McDonald's brothers begin to franchise their restaurant with the first restaurant in Phoenix, Arizona which also was the first to utilize the golden arches design.
- 1953: the second McDonald's restaurant opens in Downey, California. This is the oldest McDonald's restaurant which still uses the original arches design today.
- 1953: the third McDonald's restaurant opens at 12919 Victory Blvd, North Hollywood, California in October. This site unfortunately was torn down and no longer has the golden arches.
- 1954: Ray Kroc visits the McDonalds brothers in San Bernandino and secures a nationwide franchising contract
- 1955: Kroc opens his first McDonald's franchise in Des Plaines, Illinois in April. A lot of people get this confused with being the first ever McDonald's, but as you can read from 1 - 6, it was not.