Today marks the 79th Anniversay of drive-in theaters, and we would like to join in the celebration by giving it an Idaho spin. The very first drive-in theater was created by Richard Hollingshead and built in Camden, New Jersey in 1933. According to Irene Levine in her “Drive-In Theaters: The Big Fadeout of a Cultural Icon,” about 3200 drive-ins were built during 1948-1958, and were particularly popular in rural areas. There was an estimated 4000 theaters in operation during their heyday, but began to decline by the 1970s due to higher property values and development pressure. Idaho had about 40 theaters, with an estimate of 10 still in operation today. Many of Idaho’s drive-in theaters have been torn down for other developments, such as apartment buildings, car dealerships, and in the ironic case of one Nampa theater, indoor theaters. One can see the remnants of the Broadway Drive-In screen while driving west on Federal Way (it’s been repurposed as a sign for Storage Plus). The very first drive-ins had speakers behind the movie screens, but evolved to wired speakers that would hang off the car window, and now existing theaters use the car radio as a receiver. The theaters closest to Boise that are still in operation are the Terrace Drive-In (Caldwell) and Parma Motor Vu Drive-In (Parma). For a more complete list, check out this site.
Can you feel the nostalgia oozing out of you? I remember my first time at a drive-in theater in Idaho Falls…I was so excited to get to stay up late (I was 14) and watch two movies. I can’t remember the first movie now, but I remember falling in love with Ben Affleck while my sister stared all dreamy-eyed at Josh Hartnett in Pearl Harbor. We laughed and cried in that backseat all through the movie and talked excitedly the whole way home to our aunt and uncle. What are some of your first memories of drive-in theaters?
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