Highway 51 rerouted
Highway 51, which had run through the center of the business district on Milwaukee Street, then a two-way arterial, was moved to the new Centerway Bridge north of downtown on June 17, 1958.205 It was another Department of Transportation action that re-routed traffic out of Janesville's traditional shopping area.
McDonald'sNot long after, on Friday, August 8, 1958,206 Janesville's first McDonald's opened on State Highway 26 (Milton Avenue) next to a Frostop Drive-In.207
Other chain "root beer stands" (as they were called) were on state highways that shared local thoroughfares inside the city limits: on Racine Street (Highway 14) just west of where it intersects Randall Avenue; Center Avenue (Highway 51) near its intersection with Nicolet; and North Washington (Highway 14) near its intersection with Memorial Drive. These streets are still state highways, albeit in some cases business routes.
Creston ParkOn November 12, 1958, Creston Park, Janesville's first shopping center, was dedicated near the northeast outskirts of town, just off Milton Avenue, between Black Ridge Road and Mt. Zion Avenue.
Its full-page Grand Opening ad in the Gazette promoted "free parking for 600 cars," assured customers they would find "parking a pleasure," and invited them to, "...come out and see for yourself."208
It was an obvious appeal to motorists irritated by downtown congestion.
A long list of dignitaries, including City Manager Joseph Lustig, Chamber of Commerce President Robert Westfall, and Sidney H. Bliss, co-publisher of the Gazette,209 attended the 9:00 a.m. ribbon-cutting ceremony.
James Fitzgerald, secretary-treasurer of Creston Park Corporation, was asked to explain the name: "Creston Park Shopping Center is constructed on the crest of a gentle rise of land," he said, "from which one looks for miles across our famous Rock Prairie farming land; 'Park' creates in the mind the thought of a large, pleasant place with ample space for parking." 210
Creston Park ShellVisiting Creston Park for the first time as a grade-schooler, I was impressed by its modern, functional appearance, especially the adjacent Shell service station with its slanted, oval roof, circular glass-walled office, and long canopy. Brian Fitzgerald said his dad saw a similar station on a business trip and sought out and hired the architect to build one for him in Janesville. It looks sleek and efficient even now.
This color photograph of a McDonald's in San Jose, California, shows how Janesville's McDonald's looked when it opened in 1958. Note the cookie-cutter similarities between this stand in sunny California and Janesville's in the Gazette photo. Even the trash cans are the same. The marketing genius of Ray Kroc—the same everywhere and everything clean, efficient, friendly, modern, and appealing to wide tastes. Most all all, perhaps, it was perfect for people in a hurry—drivers and their passengers. Found online.210.1
Highway 51-Milwaukee Street was a two-way through Janesville when
Rebel Without A Cause appeared on the Jeffris marquee. The mo-
vie was released in October, 1955. Strange Christmas fare!
In the middle fifties, Hotel Monterey was still the
fanciest lodging in town.
Credited to Heinz Zeutschel 210.2
Click for larger image and 1958 year-in-
review story about Creston Park.
The futuristic Creston Park Shell at the west end of Janesville's Creston Park. Although 32.9 on the price sign seems low compared to the cost of gasoline today, an online inflation calculator indicates it equals $2.72 in 2015 dollars, if the photograph dates to 1959, the year Creston Park opened210.3; however, Brian Fitzgerald, whose father owned the station, isn't sure when it was taken. As I write this in February, 2016, gas is $1.60 per gallon in the Milwaukee area.
With its sleek, Forward Look lines and cursive lettering, Creston
Park's logo exemplified the angular design that would
help define the opening years of the sixties.