NEWARK, NJ – Drive-in movie theaters, an iconic slice of Americana, planted their roots in New Jersey soil before sprouting across the nation. The inception occurred when Richard Hollingshead Jr., a sales manager, combined his love for automobiles and films, leading to the establishment of the first-ever drive-in theater in Camden, New Jersey on June 6, 1933.
The pioneering outdoor venue, with a sizable screen erected at the rear of Hollingshead’s driveway, epitomized innovation. It showcased “Wives Beware,” to an audience nestled in their vehicles, marking the advent of a new era in cinematic viewing.
The concept gained traction, with drive-ins popping up across the nation, offering a unique blend of entertainment and social interaction. By the late 1950s, America was home to over 4,000 drive-in theaters, symbolizing a golden era of outdoor movie viewing.
However, the rise of home entertainment systems and urban sprawl led to a decline in their popularity, closing many doors. Yet, the allure of watching films under a starlit sky kept a number of these establishments alive.
Fast forward to today, New Jersey, the birthplace of this nostalgic experience, continues to keep the tradition alive. Currently, the state hosts two operational drive-in theaters: the Delsea Drive-In Theatre in Vineland and the Warwick Drive-In near the New Jersey-New York border.
The enduring charm of drive-in theaters resonates with those yearning for a blend of vintage vibes and cinematic magic, a testament to Hollingshead’s ingenuity almost a century ago.