McDonalds unveiled its new look in 1968. Gone were the red stripes, outdoor service counters and gigantic golden arches of the old days. New McDonalds restaurants in the 1970s had brick exteriors, mansard roofs and indoor seating areas designed for family dining. During this decade, McDonalds also introduced us to the Quarter Pounder (1971), the Egg McMuffin (1973), the Happy Meal (1979) and the characters of McDonaldland.
The first kids meal was the Funmeal, introduced by Burger Chef in 1973. A cardboard tray decorated with pictures and games held a Funburger, fries and drink. In 1978, the Star Wars Funmeal had trays that could be punched out and assembled into movie characters and vehicles. It was the first kids meal to incorporate a licensed promotional theme.
In 1979, McDonalds introduced their version of the kids meal....the Happy Meal. The first promotion consisted of a series of boxes that formed a circus train when combined. A stencil, puzzle book, wrist wallet, top and erasers were inside. Later that year, the theme was Star Trek, The Motion Picture.
In Columbus, Ohio, the Kahiki Supper Club was widely regarded as one of the best Tiki restaurants in the country.
In the 1970s, ethnic cuisine moved beyond Italian and Chinese fare to embrace other cultures, especially Mexican and Greek food. Leading the way in Chicago was the Parthenon, where American diners were first introduced to gyros and flaming saganaki.
In 1973, stores began to use bar codes to scan prices on products. Wrigley's gum was the first product to print bar codes on its packaging.
After World War II, the growth of the suburbs created a new type of shopping experience. When downtown shopping became too inconvenient for suburban families, strip shopping centers and large regional shopping centers began to increase in number to serve them. The first modern enclosed mall opened in 1956.
The 1970s saw a dramatic increase in the number of indoor malls. Woodfield Mall opened near Chicago in 1971. With four anchor stores and hundreds of smaller shops, it was the world's largest mall for many years. In 1979, the Dixie Square Mall (a Chicagoland mall that closed a year earlier) was immortalized on film when it was trashed by Jake and Elwood Blues in The Blues Brothers.
City skylines became sleek and modern. New skyscrapers were built of steel and glass, and featured impeccable landscaping, multi-story atriums and glass elevators.
In New York City, the twin towers of the World Trade Center opened in 1970 and 1972. The complex also had four smaller buildings and a hotel, in addition to its own zip code. The towers were the tallest buildings in the world until the Sears Tower came along in 1974.
Chicago's Sears Tower became the world's tallest building when it was completed in 1974, reaching a height of 110 stories and 1,450 feet.
the suburbs A suburb is a town or neighborhood that is connected to a large city. In the 1970s, the most popular type of suburb was the freeway suburb....a sprawling collection of houses, office buildings and shopping centers located several miles from the city center. These communities were born in the postwar climate of the late 1940s and were connected to the city by freeways and expressways. Unlike traditional towns, they didn't have a well-defined downtown area or business district, which often resulted in a lack of community identity.
In 1970, more people lived in suburbs than anywhere else, thanks to the phenomenal growth of the suburbs in the 1960s.
The movement of Americans from cities to suburbs resulted in urban decay, and the movement of newly-affluent minorities to the suburbs created racial tension. White flight occurred when white families disliked the growing diversity of their previously all-white neighborhoods, and moved to towns that were further away from the city.
services *Fotomat booths could be found in almost every shopping center parking lot. This drive-up film developing service began in 1967 in San Diego. Fotomat provided great service, but couldn't compete with large drugstore chains offering lower prices. In the late 1980s, Fotomat was purchased by a Japanese firm, and by the early 1990s they were all gone.
*Auto rustproofing was highly recommended in the 1970s. The most common rustproofing chains were Ziebart and Rusty Jones.
the bar scene In the late 1960s, the sexual revolution made it acceptable to visit a bar with the sole intention of finding a sexual partner. This resulted in a new type of nightspot....the singles bar. The burgeoning gay rights movement also helped create a thriving gay bar scene in the 1970s.
keyholder clubs Keyholder clubs were members-only nightclubs for businessmen. The two biggest chains in the 1970s were the Gaslight Clubs and the Playboy Clubs.
The first Playboy Club opened in Chicago in 1960. Members enjoyed world-class entertainment, drinks served by Playboy Bunnies, and dancing in the discotheque. During the chain's heyday in the late 1970s, there were Playboy Clubs in 24 American cities, as well as several locations overseas. The Playboy Resorts in Wisconsin, New Jersey and Jamaica were open to the public, with Playboy Clubs on the premises for keyholders.
The Gaslight Club was a "Gay Nineties" keyholder club. Inside, costumed musicians played dixieland jazz and scantily-clad Gaslight Girls sang, danced and served drinks. The first location opened in Chicago in 1953. By the 1970s, there were locations in several other cities, including New York, Washington D.C. and Paris.
lounges & ballrooms If you preferred the entertainment of the nightclub era, you could still find many of your favorite performers at lounges, ballrooms and supper clubs. This was the last decade in which most of the big names of the past were still active. In the early 1970s, bandleaders like Duke Ellington and Count Basie still toured on a regular basis. In the Chicago suburb of Hickory Hills, the Sabre Room featured entertainment along the lines of Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin. Other artists performed in lounges that operated in conjunction with resorts and hotels. In a world of discos and singles bars, these venues were a throwback to the glamorous nightclub atmosphere of the old days.
rock clubs In the late 1970s, CBGBs in New York City was the birthplace of alternative music. Groups like Blondie, the Ramones and the Talking Heads all got their start here.
The trendiest music clubs could be found on the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles. In the early 1970s, performers like David Bowie and Iggy Pop made it a haven for the glitter rock scene. Elton John performed his first American shows in 1970 at The Troubadour. In the late 1970s, Gazzarri's gave Van Halen their start. The cream of showbiz society could be found at The Roxy and its private upstairs club On The Rox.
The disco phenomenon was born in New York's gay and black clubs, where pulsating dance music and flamboyant fashions were the rule. It showed signs of dying in 1977, but was brought back to life with the release of Saturday Night Fever. The movie itself was based on a 1976 magazine cover story titled Tribal Rites Of The New Saturday Night. Far from being over, the disco scene experienced its greatest popularity in 1978 and 1979.
the atmosphere A night at the disco was all about glamour. Girls whirled around the dance floor in their slinky disco dresses. Guys sported gold chains and their best polyester shirts. Everyone's hair was blow-dried to perfection.
In the 1970s, recreational drug use went hand-in-hand with the glamorous party lifestyle. In the back room, fashionable people were partaking of fashionable drugs like cocaine and quaaludes.
The decor was futuristic, with flashing colored lights, a twirling mirrored ball, a lighted dance floor, lots of chrome and maybe a fog machine.
If you found romance under that mirrored ball, your night was complete.
the clubs Most clubs were located in the city, where they sported futuristic names like The Odyssey, The Galaxy and Infinity. Many clubs, especially those that catered to a gay clientele, were members only.
The most famous disco was New York's Studio 54, which opened in 1977. During its short life, the club became famous for its celebrity clientele, its party atmosphere and for the hordes of people clamoring for admittance. Studio 54 closed in 1980 after the original owners were arrested and charged with skimming the profits.
In small towns, any club that installed strobe lights and a mirrored ball could call itself a disco. Even the local motel lounge was guilty of this.
extended mixes In the early 1970s, dance music was released on standard 45 RPM records. Naturally, this limited the length of a typical song to about five minutes. To create extended dance mixes, DJs used dual turntables to play two copies of the same song back to back and splice together looping percussion breaks.
The first 12-inch singles were introduced in 1975. These records were designed to be manipulated by a DJ, and featured longer playing times, extended percussion breaks and more bass than a traditional record. At first, they were distributed as promotional copies for radio and club use only. In 1976, they became available to the general public.
The hottest DJs in the 1970s added new elements to their mixes such as breaking, scratching, cross-fading, back-spinning and rapping.
Many of these techniques were developed by pioneering DJs like Kool Herc, Grand Wizard Theodore, Grandmaster Flash, Frankie Knuckles and Larry Levan. In the process, these mix artists became famous in their own right. Equally famous were the clubs where these innovations took place....the Warehouse in Chicago and Paradise Garage in New York City.