Hyde Park Drive-In up for lease

Interested in running a drive-in theater? The National Park Service has everything you need.

The NPS has issued a Request for Proposals for the Hyde Park Drive In Theatre, which is part of the Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site. The nine-acre site includes everything you’d need, with a screen, a ticket booth, room for about 670 cars, and a projection-concession building. You can find out more, including where to apply at the NPS site.

What’s missing from this story is what happened to the old owners. This drive-in opened as the Hyde Park Auto Vision Theatre on July 28, 1950, owned by Sidney Cohen and his brother-in-law Phil Eisenberg. It had stayed in the Cohen family ever since. (I virtually visited the Hyde Park in 2017 as part of my Drive-In-a-Day Odyssey, which is when I learned most of this history.)

The Cohen family used to own both the drive-in and its land. In the early 2000s, property taxes rose to unsustainable levels for the drive-in, and Wal-Mart was interested in buying the land. Scenic Hudson, a Poughkeepsie-based environmental group, bought the property and leased it back to the Cohen family. “Scenic Hudson bought the land because they didn’t want a Wal-Mart going in right smack across from the Roosevelt home,” manager Andy Cohen told The New York Times in 2008.

In July 2011, Scenic Hudson transferred ownership of the drive-in’s land to the NPS. As the Red Hook Observer pointed out in 2014, the Hyde Park is the only drive-in on park service land. The last note I saw was an October 2014 BBC article, where owner Barry Horowitz (Sidney Cohen’s son-in-law) said he had just completed converting to digital projection.

I hope that the family’s departure from the Hyde Park was somehow positive for them. It definitely opens a new opportunity for anyone to step up and “attract diverse visitors” to the area, as the NPS put it. I’d bet we’ll hear more about the new operators later this year.