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Google Marks Opening of the First Drive-In Theater With Google Doodle Animation

google opening first drive in

Today’s Google Doodle marks a bit of Americana that has sadly fallen to the wayside, with a nostalgic interactive doodle honoring the opening of the first drive-in theater.

The opening of the first drive-in theater came at the start of the summer on Crescent Boulevard in Pennsauken Township, New Jersey in 1933. Inventor Richard Milton Hollingshead, Jr. pioneered the concept during the Great Depression, when he observed that despite bleak economic conditions, Americans still found a bit of money to spend on food, gas and most importantly, going to the cinema.

While drive-in theaters are a bit of a relic now, the opening of the first drive-in theater was a big event. A site that chronicles the rise and decline of drive-ins as marked on by the Google Doodle explains:

“Opening night was June 6, 1933, and it was known simply as “Drive-In Theatre” although the actual name was the ‘Automobile Movie Theatre.’ Opening night was packed with cars, and the first film ever shown at a drive-in was the 1932 release of “Wives Beware,” which was in second-run status at the time.”

The site continues:

“The problem of obtaining first-run films for drive-ins remains to this day to some extent. Admission was 25¢ for each car and an additional 25¢ for each person, somewhat higher than the prevailing price at the indoor houses at the time, who were also offering double features. Ironically, this has reversed itself over time and drive-ins are usually the only places to see double features today.”

After the opening of the first drive-in theater in New Jersey and their rise and fall, the uniquely American phenomenon became somewhat symbolic of a golden era of American entertainment. As home movie-viewing rose in popularity and real estate grew to be a more competitive market, drive-in movie theaters across the US began disappearing.

In their heyday, more than 4,000 drive-ins operated in pleasant weather, a number that has sadly fallen to just 366 today- a figure that seems to decrease each summer as Home Depots and Malls crop up where families used to park as night fell to watch summer blockbusters at a flat rate for the whole car.

google doodle drive in

It’s been 79 years since the opening of the first drive-in theater, and while it’s unlikely at this time the practice will see a revival- much to the detriment of American families everywhere- the memory of drive-in theaters lives on for many of us who remember our early drive-in experiences.

Below is Google’s video in honor of drive-ins- are you old enough to have experienced drive-ins during your childhood and teens?

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8 Responses to “Google Marks Opening of the First Drive-In Theater With Google Doodle Animation”

  1. Carl Newton

    I remember going to the drive in as a teenager with a car full of kids and a couple in the trunk.. don't really remember the movies as we spent more time on the swings down in front of the hugh screen.

    One place showed porn after 10pm so we would have the others drive out and leave us behind.. after about 15 mins or so the manager would track us down and run us off.. AH,, them were the days in summer..

  2. Larry Lane

    I think it is outrageous that Google made a doodle for things like this, but they won't make a doodle for Gay Pride Month. I guess the opening of the first drive-in movie is more important than the civil rights of gay people. How sad! Google, stop being evil!

  3. James Johnson

    Actually Larry Google has celebrated Gay couples. In their Valentine's day Google they had pictures of various couples including two men holding hands and two women holding hands.

  4. Matt Lazarus

    OMG dude… There are a billion things that are more important than "Gay Pride…" You got your gay rights and your ridiculous sideshow/parades in Toronto etc. Stop whining. They should make one about the economy – actually, you should search YouTube to see the meaning BEHIND this cartoon… It is much deeper than you think…

  5. Larry Lane

    It's not important to you because you aren't gay., but our civil rights are very important to us. Since you are not gay, you have no right telling gay people what is important to them-especially their own constitutional rights. You are a homophobe. The rights of millions of gay people around the world are infinitely more important than the economy. I think it is outrageous that Google believes the opening of the first drive-in movie theater where straight teenagers could get have sex in the backseats of cars is more important than gay peoples civil rights movement.

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