6-25-15-Troy Drive In

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Constructed in 1954, the Troy Drive In was a landmark at Maple Road and Stevenson Highway. One of the largest in the country, the 33-acre outdoor theater parked 3,000 cars.

The idea of a watching a movie from the comfort and privacy of your own car was the brainchild of Richard Hollingshead of Camden, N.J. Mr.  Hollingshead’s mother was a plus-sized lady who found theater seats uncomfortable. So Richardexperimented in his driveway with a 1928 Kodak projector, a sheet hung between trees, and a radio for projecting sound. He patented his idea, invested $30,000 in land and equipment, and opened Park-In Theaters in 1933. His idea caught on nationally after his patent was overturned in 1948. Drive-in movie theaters peaked in popularity in the 1950s and 60s when there were about 5,000 facilities across the country. In addition to B movies, they featured snack bars, playgrounds for small kids, and technology that allowed the movie’s soundtrack to be transmitted through the car’s FM radio.

Many drive-ins were mom-and-pop businesses. As communities like Troy developed, the value of their land increased dramatically, and owners sold their property to developers. Additionally, drive-ins that featured B films only after dark could not compete with newer multiplex cinemas that showed a variety of first-run films throughout the day.

In December 1984, the giant blue screen at the Troy Drive In was dismantled with steel cutting torches and replaced by a restaurant and a five-building office park.

To commemorate the City of Troy’s 60th Anniversary in 2015, we will publish a different story each day that highlights a person, discovery, or event that occurred locally, regionally, nationally, or even globally between 1955 and 2015 and that helped shape our lives and our community. We will try to post stories on important anniversary dates, but we also realize that dates are less critical than content and context. We will include the facts related to controversial stories, allowing our readers to form their own opinions. We invite you to read and comment on the stories. Your suggestions for topics are also welcome and can be posted on our Facebook page, www.facebook.com/TroyHistoricVillage. You can also email stories or ideas to the 365 Story Editor at ed@thvmail.org.

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