Home Travel Stories Road Trip Media CALIFORNIA DRIVE-IN THEATERS
Written by Double Dragon
Tuesday, 31 March 2015 16:25



Writing and photography copyright D. S. Brown. Research and memories related to Alameda Auto ovie and Island Auto Movie courtesy of Joseph Baca.

The Camden Drive-In located in Camden,  New Jersey was the first drive-in theater built and opened June 6, 1933. A year later the Pico Drive-In opened in California. California had a huge car culture which accelerated the rate of drive-in theater construction.

Alameda Auto Movie, Alameda, CA

Coliseum Drive-In, Oakland, CA

Electric Dusk Drive-In, Los Angeles, CA 818-653-8591

Geneva 4 Drive-In, Daly City, CA

Island Auto Movie, Alameda, CA

The Mission Drive-In, San Francisco/ Daly City, CA

Mission Tiki Drive-In, Montclair, CA 909-628-0511

Rubidoux Drive-In Theater, Riverside, CA 951-683-4455

South Bay Drive-In Theatres, San Diego, CA 619-429-2727

Terrace Drive-In, San Francisco, CA

Van Buren Drive-In, Riverside, CA 951-688-2360

West Wind Solano 2 Drive-In, Concord, CA



Alameda Auto Movie was located at 2145 Webster Street, Alameda, California. The theater opened May 18, 1950 and was closed November 6, 1968. The drive in location is now occupied by the College of Alameda at 555 Atlantic Avenue.



The Coliseum Drive-In is located at 5401 Coliseum Way, Oakland, California. The theater is the sister drive-in to the Island Auto Movie drive in Alameda, California which is now closed. Coliseum Drive-In opened in Dec, 1961. As its popularity mounted, the location was expanded into a 4 screen drive-in. It is owned by Syufy Enterprises and currently doesn't show movies. The location is used to hold a swap meet called West Wind Coliseum Swap Meet. 1 of the screens remains intact.


ELECTRIC DUSK DRIVE-IN, Los Angeles, CA 818-653-8591

Electric Dusk Drive-In is located at 1000 San Julian St, Los Angeles, Calfornia.

The Electric Dusk opened October 28, 2012 showing the movie 'Clue'. The drive-in movie theater was originally located at 240 W. 4th Street, Los Angeles, California atop the rooftop of a parking garage at the corner of 4th Street and Broadway. The screen was 24 x 18 feet. Carhops took orders for a snack bar. The space was slated for redevelopment destined to become LA's tallest luxury skyscraper. The last show at this location was screened April 6, 2013.

The Electric Dusk was moved to another building that is doomed to be demolished at San Julian Street.  The first film shown at the new location "Goodfellas" when it opened April 27, 2013.

This is a single screen theater that shows popular classics. Attendants organize parking to avoid 'SUV factor' and "monster truck syndrome' blocking the few people left who still drive actual cars.



Geneva 4 Drive-In was located at 607 Carter Street, Daly City, California. Geneva opened as a single screen theater June 15, 1950. The location was formerly a midget car racing track and possibly one of the ones that was frequented by beat icon Neal Cassady. Cassady usually attended the races down in San Jose, but with all his forays up to San Francisco its likely he made it up here, too.

The Geneva Drive-In was able to cram 771 cars in the viewing area and over the years expanded to 4 screens. Hunter S. Thompson recounts an amusing night he spent in 1985 at the Geneva watching one of the Rocky movies in his book Generation Of Swine. HST mentions that the Geneva was still using the metal speakers that mounted on your window.

The Geneva 4 ceased running movies in 1999 and hosted flea markets until 2000. In March, 2002 it was demolished. The vacant lot retains vestiges of the original layout.



Island Auto Movie was located at 791 Thau Way, Alameda, California. The theater opened June 29, 1950 and was closed approximately 1998.

The main entrance to the drive-in on Thau Way is now renamed as the corner of Atlantic Avenue and Bartlett Drive. Island Auto Movie was owned by Syufy Enterprises. Syufy ran the Alameda Penny Market which was a swap meet held at the Island Auto Movie drive-in on weekends.

Regular OOCC reader Joseph worked for Syufy Enterprises from 1984-88. He recalls that the movie screen was located at the current corner of Marina Village Parkway and Constitution Way. The exit was known as Entrance 2 and was located about 300 feet north of the current intersection of Bartlett Drive and Atlantic Ave. A laundromat near Entrance 2 enabled moviegoers to do laundry as they watched the film.

Joseph worked Entrance 2 for 4 years. He recalls that employees got free admission to the flea market and the Coliseum Drive-In which was the sister drive in theater located in Oakland. The swap meet ran from Wednesday through Sunday. A tire sales company manned a tent on this site daily. Movies were shown only during the summer months and only on weekends.

A major storm in 1991 brought down part of the screen. The theater was rebuilt but never showed another movie in its new form.

North of the drive-in location is the Marina Village shopping center which used to be the Bethleham Steel building. To the south of the drive-in for a mile in each direction remnants of a railroad yard has been converted to waterfront park areas.


THE MISSION DRIVE-IN, San Francisco/ Daly City, CA

The Mission Drive-In had a mailing address at 5500 Mission Street, San Francisco, California which explains the name of the theater. The actual entrance to the theater was on Guttenburg Street, Daly City, California. The Mission opened in 1951 and lasted until 1976.


MISSION TIKI DRIVE-IN, Montclair, CA 909-628-0511

Mission Tiki Drive-In is located at 10798 Ramona Ave, Montclair, California. This is a 4 screen theater with soundtracks transmitted on FM radio and digital images. The theater hosts a swap meet during daylight hours most days.


RUBIDOUX DRIVE-IN THEATER, Riverside, CA 951-683-4455

Rubidoux Drive-In Theater is located at 3770 Opal Street, Riverside, California. This is a 3 screen theater.


SOUTH BAY DRIVE-IN THEATRES, San Diego, CA 619-429-2727

South Bay Drive-In Theatres is located at 2170 Coronado Ave, San Diego, California. This is a 3 screen theater which also hosts a swap meet during daylight hours most days.



Terrace Drive-In was located at 451 Allemany, San Francisco, California. It was opened in 1951 but closed in 1954 due to pervasive San Francisco fog impairing the view of the screen. Interstate 280 runs over the former drive-in location.


VAN BUREN DRIVE-IN, Riverside, CA 951-688-2360

Van Buren Drive-In is located at 3035 Van Buren Blvd, Riverside, California. This is a 3 screen theater. The soundtracks are piped in via FM radio signal. A swap meet is also run at this location during daylight hours most days.



West Wind Solano 2 Drive-In is located at 1611 Solano Way, Concord, Calfiornia. The drive-in was host to a flea market for several years until lobbying by residents in 2007 succeeded in getting the drive-in reopened. The drive-in still has a snack bar attached to it but uses in car radio broadcast for the soundtrack which most modern drive-ins now use.



Last Updated ( Tuesday, 11 April 2017 18:48 )