Circle Drive-In

1633 Ximeno Avenue,
Long Beach, CA 90815

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Circle Drive-In

Viewing: Photo | Street View

I can remember this very large drive-in, with its grand marquee at the corner of Pacific Coast Highway and Ximeno Avenue. It was a large part of the feel of the area, built in the post-WW II boom, many built in mid-century modern “Googie” style.

The Circle Drive-In was joined recently (05/2004) in the “lost” column by another local icon, the Java Lanes bowling alley, with it’s huge Polynesian “A”-frame roof. The Circle Drive-In was named for the (in)famous Alamitos traffic circle roundabout, down the street.

Contributed by Randy

Recent comments (view all 18 comments)

kencmcintyre on November 22, 2006 at 1:05 pm

Here is an article from the 4/4/51 edition of the Long Beach Press Telegram:

Circle Drive-in Opens Tonight

HAILED as the most modern of its type in the nation, the new Circle Drive-In theater will be opened to the public tonight. The theater, located on 15 acres at Pacific Coast Hwy. at the Traffic Circle, will hold a benefit premiere tonight and those who saw a test last night were strong in praise for the huge screen and near-perfect sound offered. Two good films, “Stage to Tucson” and “Raton Pass”
plus news and comics, are offered on the opening bill.

Tonight’s opening culminates more than a year of planning and work. Owned and operated by Eagle Theaters Corp., headed by Thornton Howell, with his brother, James Howell, as secretary-treasurer, the Circle Drive-in is the fourth such theater opened by them. The Long Beach theater imbodies not only all of the main points of their other driveins but many new features. Barnie Warrick, manager, says
the new theater has the largest screen of any in the country. The
picture itself will be 70 feet by 46 feet.

The projector is the latest in equipment from RCA. Each aisle is equipped with ramp lights and each speaker post has a pilot light. In addition the posts are covered with luminous paint. There is parking-viewing space for 1000 motor cars. The snack bar has 85 feet of counter space and is designed for speed in serving. There are two
16-foot windows from the snack bar overlooking the screen and the interior is wired for sound so that visitors in there will not
miss any of the film. It is planned to install playground equipment of all kinds shortly for the entertainment of tots either before or during the shows. The show will start each evening at dusk and the gates will be opened an hour before. Music will be provided on the speakers until the picture starts. Pets are welcomed but must be kept in the cars.

kencmcintyre on July 31, 2007 at 9:20 pm

Here is a 1954 ad from the Independent Press-Telegram:

kencmcintyre on January 7, 2010 at 9:45 pm

Here is a newspaper ad at the opening of the theater:

LB562 on August 4, 2011 at 12:53 am

I’m dying to know- where exactly was this? Was it where the Burger King/Staples etc is today? Or was it across the street where there is an Archstone apt complex is?

Neurosturgeon on August 24, 2011 at 3:08 pm

The Circle Drive-In was across Ximeno from where the Burger King and Staples are located. Not exactly sure what is there now. Last films I saw there was a double feature of “Airport” and “Thoroughly Modern Milly” around 1970.

rivest266 on August 8, 2012 at 4:13 pm

April 4th, 1951 grand opening ad posted in the photo section here.

LBtheaterfan on October 14, 2013 at 7:21 am

Can’t tell how many movies I happily missed in my junior year in high school!

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