Seventy years ago, in 1933, America's first drive-in movie theater opened its gates in Camden, N.J., playing to a packed house.
It was a sell-out from the get-go. Richard Hollingshead's idea was copied far and wide in the years that followed, reaching its peak in the 1950s, when 5,000 drive-ins were operating across the United States.
For the postwar generation, a night at the drive-in was full of rituals.
There was the speaker hanging in the window; the endless promotions for the concession stand; the occasional opportunity for teenage romance; and, of course, there were the movies themselves.
The films played were often motley collections of borderline films that seemed to be seen only on drive-in screens.
But, no sooner did drive-ins get into high gear than they started to drive off into the sunset — done in by Daylight Saving Time and by the suburban sprawl that drove up land prices.
Today, just about 500 drive-ins still keep the flickering flame alive, bolstered by a new generation of loyal fans.
They're hoping to prove that it will take more than changing tastes and unfavorable economics to drive out the drive in.
For Further Information
To purchase books, videos, postcards, and other drive-in memorabilia go to www.drive-ins.com, E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or call (702) 392-0340
United Drive-In Theatre Owners Association
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