About National Drive In Movie Day
A partial drive-in theater—Theatre de Guadalupe—was opened in Las Cruces, New Mexico, on April 23rd 1915. The first movie shown by the Theatre de Guadalupe was 'Bags of Gold', produced by Siegmund Lubin.
Despite this early attempt, the date of this observance marks the first patented drive-in theater, which was patented in Camden, New Jersey by chemical company magnate Richard M. Hollingshead, Jr.
In 1932, Hollingshead conducted outdoor theater tests in his driveway at 212 Thomas Avenue in Riverton. After nailing a screen to trees in his backyard, he set a 1928 Kodak projector on the hood of his car and put a radio behind the screen, testing different sound levels with his car windows down and up. Blocks under vehicles in the driveway enabled him to determine the size and spacing of ramps so all automobiles could have a clear view of the screen. Hollingshead applied for a patent of his invention on August 6th 1932, and he was given U.S. Patent 1,909,537 on May 16th 1933.
Hollingshead's drive-in opened in New Jersey June 6th 1933, on Admiral Wilson Boulevard in Pennsauken Township.
At the height of their popularity in 1958, there were more than 4,000 drive-ins across America. Today there are only 330 open.