Exploring San Bernardino's Rich History: From Route 66 to the First McDonald's

Exploring San Bernardino's Rich History: From Route 66 to the First McDonald's
Photo by tommao wang / Unsplash

The Mother Road

San Bernardino, a city located in Southern California, is rich in history and has played a significant role in the state's development. From Route 66 to the first McDonald's, San Bernardino's past is full of interesting stories and landmarks that have shaped its identity.

Route 66, also known as the "Mother Road," was one of the first highways in the United States and ran from Chicago to Santa Monica. San Bernardino was an important stop on the route and served as a hub for travelers and truckers. The city's iconic Wigwam Motel, built in 1949, is a testament to the era's roadside architecture and is one of the few remaining Wigwam Motels in the country.


Another significant landmark is the first McDonald's, which was opened in San Bernardino by brothers Richard and Maurice McDonald in 1940. The restaurant's success led to the creation of the fast-food industry and has since become a global phenomenon. The original building was demolished in 1971, but a replica now stands in its place as a tribute to its historical significance.

The Gold Rush

San Bernardino also played a crucial role in the California Gold Rush of 1849. The city was a popular stop for miners and settlers traveling to the gold fields in Northern California. The Mormon pioneers who traveled through San Bernardino in 1851 also left a lasting impact on the city's history, with many of their descendants still living in the area today.

Santa Fe Depot

The city also has a rich railroad history, with the Santa Fe Depot being a significant landmark. Built in 1918, the depot served as a transportation hub for passengers and freight traveling across the country. Today, it has been restored and is home to the San Bernardino History and Railroad Museum.

California Theatre

In addition to these landmarks, San Bernardino is also home to the historic California Theatre, which opened in 1928 and was a popular entertainment venue for Hollywood stars. The theater was restored in 2004 and now hosts a variety of performances and events throughout the year.

Overall, San Bernardino's rich history is an integral part of its identity and has helped shape the city into what it is today. From Route 66 to the first McDonald's, the city's landmarks tell a story of California's growth and development over time. By preserving these historical sites, the city can continue to honor its past while also looking toward the future.

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