Saturday, April 28, 2012

Los Feliz Drive-in, Los Angeles

Few people know that the Los Feliz/Silverlake area of Los Angeles (adjacent to Griffith Park) once had a drive-in theatre -- apparently a twin. It opened in March, 1950 and closed in October, 1956. The Golden State Freeway was built on top of it.  Since I posted this, readers have helped me find out some more information about it, including directing me to this article that appeared in 2012 in the Los Feliz Ledger:
Below, Andrew Ralston sent me this picture of Silver Lake and Atwater Village in 1953 from the Los Angeles Public Library archives. The Los Feliz Drive-in is visible left of center next to the Hyperion Bridge.  It appears there may have been signage on the backside of the screen tower next to the bridge.

A commenter below referred me to an excellent site, Historic Aerials.com.  Above, the site of the Los Feliz Drive-in in 1948.  The Hyperion Bridge is just south, crossing the Los Angeles River. There appears to be some sort of industrial building at the site at this time.
Plainly visible here is the Los Feliz Drive-in from this aerial shot in 1955.  Notice the curved terraces for cars, clearly showing that the drive-in was indeed a twin.  The concession stand/projection booth is in the middle.
The 5 Freeway was built soon after, as seen in this 1972 aerial shot. As you can see, the freeway occupies about half of the land where the drive-in once stood.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

In the early Fifties, our family would visit our Grandmother on the Westside on Sundays. Driving home to Glendale in the evening down the Hyperion Bridge, we could see the drive-in screen from the car if we looked in the direction of Griffith Park. My sister and I would always try to guess what movie was playing. I only remember seeing one screen from the car.

Anonymous said...

Wanted to add a clarification. It was probably during the Early to Mid-Fifties that we could see the Los Feliz Drive-In Movie Screen while driving down the Hyperion Bridge to Glendale. If there was a second screen, we probably only saw the back side of it from our car. I also remember a nearby walk-in movie theater at that time on Glendale Blvd. (named the Atwater, I believe). I've also read about a very popular Country Music Night Club at that time on Riverside Drive near the Drive-In Theater (the Riverside Rancho Night Club, I believe). It would be great to read any more comments/memories on all three establishments.

Scott Santoro said...

Thanks for that story. Surely someone somewhere has a photograph of the drive-in. The nearest indoor theatre I know of was a few miles south on Riverside Drive, the Elysian, now the Knightsbridge equity waver theatre. Here's a picture frmo 1948: http://i132.photobucket.com/albums/q12/kencmcintyre/more%20photos/124498158_02d01cc19f.jpg I wouldn't be surprised if there had been a theatre in Atwater Village, but I've not been able to verify that.

Anonymous said...

Scott, thanks very much for the interesting information on the Elysian/Knightsbridge Theater on Riverside Drive. Regarding the Atwater (Indoor) Movie Theater on Glendale Blvd. in Atwater Village, I remember that my Dad took me there to see "Pinocchio" probably in the Mid-Fifties. I believe the theater was located where the "Pampered Birds" Store is now located (3183 Glendale Blvd.). If you look at the outside front of the store, it definitely looks like it was a movie theater at one time. I also remember checking the Movie Section of an "L.A. Times" from 1955 recently, and the Atwater Movie Theater on Glendale Blvd. was included in the Independent Movie Theater Listings. It would be great to see any photographs of the Los Feliz Drive-In Movie Theater and/or the Atwater (Indoor) Movie Theater. Thanks again.

Scott Santoro said...

I looked at the view on google maps. The Pampered Birds store appears to be part of the building, and yes, it does look like it was a theatre. Given how small Atwater is, perhaps there is mention of it in this recently published book: http://friendsofatwatervillage.org/site/tag/book/

Anonymous said...

Scott, thanks very much. I bought a copy of the book on Atwater Village. It has many great photographs and contains a great deal of interesting historical information on the area. The book does mention that the Atwater Movie Theater was located where the Pampered Birds Store is now located. The book also mentions that the Los Feliz Drive-In Theater was open from 1950 until 1956. Unfortunately, there are no photographs of either theater. Maybe, someday, photographs of both theaters will turn up somewhere. Thanks again.

Anonymous said...

The Los Feliz Drive-in Theatre wasn't that big of a Drive In From an Aerial photo it look kind of small. Go to

http://www.historicaerials.com

Type in hyperion bridge an you can see what the drive looked like via an old Aerial Shot.

Scott Santoro said...

Thanks. I've taken a screen shot. That's very interesting. It's obvious from the way the site is graded it was a twin.

Anonymous said...

Scott, are you aware of the article in the "Los Feliz Ledger" from 2/12 on Page 10 by Tony Cella? It mentions the first films shown at the Los Feliz Drive-In Theater and probably the last films shown there (including a copy of the last listing from the "Times"). The article is on line. Here is the link (I hope).

http://issuu.com/losfelizledger/docs/lfl_feb12

Andrew Patrick Ralston said...

Scott - I just sent you an email with a 1953 aerial pic I found on the LAPL digital database. It's from afar but you can clearly see the drive in. If you haven't already, I thought you'd like to see it!

Anonymous said...

I have been looking for photographs of the Los Feliz Drive-in for a couple of years now. I have been in touch with the Angelucci family that ran the theater and they have promised to look for photos but I have not heard back from them.

There’s an interesting back story to this: one of the family members, Orfeo Angelucci, claimed to have had a UFO encounter near the Hyperion Bridge.. lots written about that.

ttgeott2gmail.com

I also have the aerials without the watermarks.