The Riverside branch of the Automobile Club of Southern California is celebrating its 100th birthday at its 3700 Central Avenue location throughout the month of May and at the annual Show and Go car show taking place Saturday, May 6 in downtown Riverside.
“We are proud to have been a part of the Riverside community for 100 years,” said Mike Curley, the Auto Club’s Riverside branch manager. “We encourage members to visit us during our Centennial event to join the celebration and allow us to thank them for their membership.”
The Riverside branch now serves more than 184,000 members in the area. It offers free DMV vehicle-related services, a full-service travel agency, maps and travel publications, insurance services, discount attraction and movie tickets, and many other member benefits.
Members and non-members can visit the Auto Club’s Show and Go booth May 6 to see historical displays, including an antique Auto Club vehicle, and receive free commemorative gifts. Members can also visit the branch any time in the month of May to see a display of the Auto Club’s Riverside history and receive a gift to thank them for their membership.
The Auto Club was founded in Los Angeles in December 1900 by 10 horseless-carriage enthusiasts. When the Riverside branch opened in 1917, it was the eighth Auto Club branch. Today, the Auto Club has 84 branches throughout Southern California, including seven in Riverside County.
The Riverside city branch has occupied five buildings over the last 100 years. Its first address was 733 W. 7th St. (since renamed Mission Inn Avenue), where it stayed for a little over a year. It moved to 682 Main St. from 1918 through 1923, and then to 1010 W. 7th St., which was renumbered to 4010 7th St. in 1930 (the building still stands today at 4010 Mission Inn Ave.) The branch moved from that location to 6927 Magnolia Ave. in 1950 and occupied that building for the next 47 years, then moved to its current location at 2700 Central Ave. in 1997.
One of the main reasons Riverside was chosen as an early Auto Club branch was its important location in the region’s developing highway network. Even before the branch existed, the Auto Club cooperated with the Riverside County Board of Supervisors in 1909 to erect Auto Club road signs. According to the Auto Club’s member magazine, Touring Topics (the predecessor to Westways), the supervisors “contributed the sum of $1,000, on condition that the Club will add a like amount … for marking the roads through the Santa Ana Canyon; Riverside via the Box Spring Grade to Perris and from Perris to Elsinore; Perris to Hemet; Hemet to Warner’s Hot Springs over the St. John’s Grade; and from Hemet to Redlands by way of San Jacinto.”
In addition to posting road signs throughout Southern California, the Auto Club initiated and completed the signposting of the National Old Trails route from Kansas City to Los Angeles, much of which became Route 66, the iconic highway of westward movement. The Auto Club has advocated for highway funding and traffic safety measures for all road users over the past century and initiated its signature service of roadside assistance in 1924.
For more information on Auto Club membership and services, visit the Riverside branch or AAA.com. The branch phone number is (951) 684-4250. Branch hours are Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.