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Google Doodle stirs up drive-in memories

blog by S.J. Velasquez  • 

The first drive-in theater opened on this day in 1933 in Camden, N.J., spurring a cinematic viewing revolution. Today, Google commemorates the momentous movie occasion in an animated Google Doodle.

Invented by Richard Hollingshead, the drive-in theater is claimed to be a response to his mother’s inability to sit comfortably in traditional indoor theater seats, according to History.com. He tinkered around with backyard versions of what would eventually become the first drive-in, which cost patrons 25 cents per car and 25 cents per person—but the overall group charge never exceeded $1.

Since then, drive-in theaters blew up in popularity, and then they subsequently faded into a cloud of nostalgia.

Though I was born in the heart of the drive-in’s decline, I recall fond memories of family nights spent before Angola’s Grandview Drive-In screen. That drive-in has since closed, signaling the complete death of drive-in theaters in Erie County. The photos below are taken from Grandview Drive-In’s website, which still exists. The first image is a vintage brochure. The second was taken in 1949 when the drive-in was under construction—the screen is still bare and the ramps had not yet been built.

Grandview Drive-In

Grandview - under construction in 1949

Lucky for Western New Yorkers, one drive-in does exist in nearby Niagara County. The Transit Drive-In, in Lockport—like Google in today’s doodle—is nodding to better days for outdoor theaters with Retro Movie Tuesdays.

And although it may seem like the drive-in scene is breathing its last breaths, the Lockport theater is holding strong. The Buffalo News’ Bruce Andriatch recently visited the multi-screen site on a busy Saturday night, wrote a column about the experience and starred in a brief news video.


Have any fond memories of drive-in movies? Tell us about them in the comments section below.

TAGGED: angola, cinema, drive-in, film, lockport, movies, theaters, transit drive-in, vintage photos

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