Thursday, June 6, 2013
June 6 - Drive-In Theater
America’s first drive-in theater was opened on June 6, 1933, in Camden, NJ, by Richard Hollingshead, Jr., a young sales manager at his father’s auto products firm. Hollingshead wanted to combine his interests in movies and cars, so he aimed for an open-air theater where patrons could watch from their cars. He experimented in his driveway in Camden by mounting a 1928 Kodak projector on the hood of his car, projecting film onto a screen nailed to backyard trees, and placing a radio behind the screen to test the audio. He also worked out parking patterns to allow for sightlines. With an investment of $30,000, the drive-in’s admission was 25 cents for each car and 25 cents per person. Sound was a key problem, since three speakers near the 40 x 50 foot screen resulted in sound delay for cars at the rear (and ambient noise pollution). RCA offered in-car speakers in 1941. Drive-ins reached their peak in the late 1950s and early 1960s, numbering 4,000 in the United States – many of them known as “passion pits” for teenagers on dates.