America’s first drive-in theater opened in New Jersey
While June 6th is rightly remembered for the Allied invasion at Normandy, another historical incident occurred on June 6th but in 1933: the first drive-in theater opened in Camden, New Jersey.
Richard Hollingshead had patented his drive-in idea and officially opened it on Admiral Wilson Boulevard on the Camden/Pennsauken border. According to the Smithsonian, Hollingshead came up with the idea because his mother was too big for traditional movie theater seats. When it opened, it had slots for 500 cars on a series of ramps that allowed all of the patrons to see.
The first film shown was Wives Beware, starring someone named Adolphe Menjou (it hasn’t been rated yet on IMDB). Admission was 25 cents and families were encouraged to attend allowing patrons to smoke, eat, and move about without bothering fellow movie goers. The sound originally came from a speaker mounted on a tower, but that caused neighborhood problems, people in the last rows often couldn’t hear, and there was a noticeable sound delay. RCA developed the individual speaker with volume control in 1941. While the Camden drive-in was the first, it was not profitable and Hollingshead sold it three years later.
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