First drive-in theater Unknown family photo
Daniel Pinna
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First drive-in theater

Vintage car driving into one of the earliest drive-in theaters in California sometime in the early or mid 1930's.

The drive-in theater was created by Richard M. Hollingshead Jr. when he first nailed a screen to a few trees in his yard, aimed a 1928 Kodak projector from the hood of his car, and placed speakers behind the screen. Richard continued to experiment with various settings, included neighbors, and found that people gravitated towards watching films outdoors. Due to people's interest, Mr. Hollingshead applied on August 6th 1932 for a patent and was given U.S. Patent 1,909,537 on May 16, 1933.

The drive-in theater quickly gained popularity and became most popular in the late 1950's and early 1960's when over 4,000 drive-ins appeared across the United States.

Some of the first recorded drive-in theaters include:
Drive-in theatre: Camden, New Jersey June 6th 1933
Shankweiler's auto park: Orefield, Pennsylvania July 5th 1934
Drive-in short reel theater: Galveston, Texas July 5th 1934
Pico: Los Angeles, California September 9th, 1934.

This particular photo might be of the Pico drive-in in Los Angeles California. Pico attempted to solve the noise pollution issue of early drive-ins by introducing a row of speakers in front of the cars (as opposed to next to the screen or on towers) in 1935. This issue was resolved in 1941 when RCA brought in-car speakers with volume control to the industry.

The advertisement in this photo reads:
DRIVE-IN THEATRE
SIT IN YOUR CAR
SEE AND HEAR TALKING PICTURES
ON THE WORLD'S LARGEST SCREEN
CALIFORNIA'S FINEST
... show more

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Photo taken at Pico drive-in theater, Los Angeles, California USA