Correction appended, April 17, 2015
It was 60 years ago this week, on April 15, 1955, that Ray Kroc opened his first McDonald’s franchise, in Des Plaines, Ill. It wasn’t the first McDonald’s restaurant (two brothers actually named McDonald had started the California-based company) but it was the first step on the road to chain-restaurant domination.
As McDonald’s enters its seventh decade, here’s a look back at images and advertisements from its first few decades — including two, numbers one and three in the slideshow above, which have never before been published outside the company. The company has changed over the years, going international, transitioning from a hamburger joint to a company that sells bed linens, making news with labor issues and breakfast menus alike. But not everything has changed: look closely at the photos of the earliest locations and you’ll notice the telltale golden arches.
Correction: The original version of this article mistakenly identified the Des Plaines, Ill., McDonald’s as the company’s first franchise location. It was Ray Kroc’s first franchise location.
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