Hamburger History

The world’s oldest In-N-Out burger in Baldwin Park was demolished last week. Toss the rubble on the pile with the Ambassador Hotel and the Friars Club. That neon arrow, crossed palm trees and the Double Double are Southern California icons and this was the birthplace of the drive-thru. The original 1948 store was rebuilt when the 10 freeway came through in the early ’50s, but this little stand was well over 50 years old (the typical age for historic review) and deserving of protection. In fact, In-N-Out promised a museum in the original store, which still featured it’s original canted windows and red and white mosaic tile. That little store #1 was so important to a company that values history and tradition that they put it on each one of their paper burger wrappers!  Baldwin Park received a C- on the Los Angeles Conservancy preservation report card. The city has an ordinance in place to designate landmarks, but zero are listed or protected. Baldwin Park Mayor Manuel Lozano said “I would have personally stopped the demolition to create some dialogue with In-N-Out to preserve it.” But when you can get an over-the counter demo permit for any building, regardless of it’s significance, it’s too little too late. More L.A. cities need to take preservation seriously and at least give historic buildings a trial before ordering their execution.
Photograph by Bobak Ha’Eri