Drive-in list adds two more

ChiTown Drive-In at night, with movie on screen and rows of cars in a flat parking lot
photo from the ChiTown Movies web page

Edgecase drive-ins, those without ramps and screen towers, are always a little difficult for me to judge. That goes double for pandemic-inspired drive-ins, many of which had short runs and are all but forgotten. Those are the excuses I’m using for not adding two of them to the Carload active drive-in list until this week.

The first is ChiTown Movies, which is in Chicago as you’d expect. It’s connected to the ChiTown Futbol facility in the city’s Pilsen neighborhood, and it opened on June 9, 2020. Food is available through the onsite restaurant, the ChiTown Grille. Although its parking lot holds just 106 cars, it’s been going strong for three seasons now. It has a dedicated projection booth and freestanding screen, so there’s no reason to keep it off the Carload list.

Although there were drive-ins all over the suburbs, those within the Chicago city limits were historically rare. The ChiTown might be only the second, after the Double Drive-In (1950-1995) on Columbus Avenue. Also, the ChiTown is less than a mile north of where old US 66 passed out of (or into) Chicago; you can pencil that note into your copy of Drive-Ins of Route 66.

The second new entry is a sketchier drive-in in an even rarer location. The Drive-In at Union Market is in Washington DC, and I believe it’s the first that ever opened within the District of Columbia itself. On one hand, it’s been operating for 10 years. On the other, it has no dedicated screen, using the side of the Union Market instead. In Google Street View, I don’t see a permanent projection booth. The monthly movie series is open to pedestrians, but the drive-in sells tickets for parking spots in the viewing field. Like I said, this is an edge case, but 10 years of drive-in movies in the same location counts for a lot.

If you know of other drive-ins that I need to add to the Carload active list, please drop me a line. I’ll keep looking for more.

How are you doing?

For this cropped bit of stock photography, do you know which drive-in was holding this religious service? I sure don’t. © Depositphotos / everett225

Hi there! Are you well? I sure hope so. I’m sorry and a little embarrassed to have left you without fresh posts for so long. 2020 has been a very strange year, and its effect on drive-ins has also been very strange. Writing about anything so small and relatively unimportant feels like The News for Parrots, but this is a drive-in theater blog.

First, this new blog theme is jarring, but a WordPress update broke the menus on the theme I had been using. I’ll need some time to find a good replacement with a dark background like a drive-in Saturday night. At least this one still seems okay on phones as well as desktops.

Now, about my absence here for a few months. At the start, I was researching my next drive-in book, Drive-Ins of Colorado. That book should be out around the end of September, a date which seems much closer than it used to. Then the pandemic hit, locking out all in-person research tools and making me question what’s really important in life. The feeling passed after a few weeks, and I went back to work on the Colorado book and on updating last year’s book, Drive-Ins of Route 66.

Two quick notes: If you have any photos of Colorado’s drive-ins, especially those that aren’t active any more, that you’d like to offer for inclusion into that book, please drop me a line at mkilgore (at) by August 24. And if you would like to peruse a first draft PDF (free, and worth every penny) of the book in exchange for noticing my mistakes, send me an email at the same address. That PDF should be ready before Labor Day.

Oh, yes, the blog. There has been too much news about drive-ins this year. Some were blocked from opening. Others were encouraged to open. Concession stands were closed. Concessions were being sold at the box office. Some drive-ins reopened their concession stands and returned to the practice of blocking outside food. Pop-up drive-ins sprouted all over. Nobody had any fresh movies to show.

I feel especially bad about not really being able to maintain the list of active drive-ins. What’s there is correct as of January 2020, but what does an accurate list look like today? What does it mean when an established drive-in can’t open because of state or local mandates? When a pop-up opens in an indoor theater parking lot, is that really a new drive-in?

All of this is one tiny part of world upheaval. Over half a million painful deaths from the Covid virus. Society mostly shut down, then partially reopened into partial paranoia. A growing awareness that persons of color are less likely to have successful interactions with law enforcement than pale folks like me. Discussions of moving election dates, deciding which votes to count, and what are okay ways to vote. (Carload World HQ is in Colorado, an all-mail ballot state, yet I don’t feel corrupt.)

That’s why it’s hard for me to generate sufficient enthusiasm to relay a summary of the upcoming Metallica concert for drive-ins, or the new pop-up Motorama in Santa Fe NM, or even winds knocking down the long-closed Hill-Top’s screen in Joliet IL, although I do need to update the Route 66 book for that last one. I’ll drop by again when I have more news of my Colorado book, and maybe I’ll also find something else I’d enjoy sharing with you. Thanks always for dropping by.

Video: SkyView Celebrates 70th Anniversary

KTVI, St. Louis’s News Leader, posted a nice little video today about the Skyview Drive-In across the border in Belleville IL.

The Skyview opened in 1949, and current owner Steve Bloomer has the newspaper clippings to prove it. KTVI’s video is mostly a walk with Bloomer as he shows off his framed photos and the Grand Opening advertisement as the drive-in celebrates its 70th anniversary.

I would have preferred more video of the drive-in and its equipment, but it was great to see some great old photos of the place and hear the stories behind them. And since I’m I sucker for any drive-in video that I can embed, I’m happy to share this one with you. Enjoy!