VOTD: Drive-In Movie Theaters Turn 75 Years Old

Today is the 75th Birthday of the Drive-In Movie Theater.

Richard M. Hollingshead, Jr. came up with the idea in 1932, conducting outdoor theater tests in his driveway with a screen attached to trees in his backyard and a 1928 Kodak projector on the hood of his car. He opened the first drive-in theater on June 6th 1933 on Admiral Wilson Boulevard at the Airport Circle in Pennsauken, New Jersey. Hollingshead's Drive-In was only operational for three years, but the concept quickly spread.

Approximately 100 major drive-ins opened nationwide before the war, and the craze eventually peaked in the late 1950s, with an estimated 4,000+ drive-ins spreading across the United States, mostly in more rural areas. Drive-ins usually charged by the car load, ran double features, and provided a private viewing environment for families who were afraid to bring their noisy children to traditional theaters (oh, how times have changed).

Land value increases, real estate economics, the invention of the multiplex, cable television, and home video has lead to a massive decline. Only 383 commercially operational drive-in movie theaters around today, down from 447 in 1999.

You can find a Drive-In Movie Theater near you on DriveInMovie.com.