East Side Drive-In

19440 Harper Avenue,
Harper Woods, MI 48225

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East Side Drive-In

Located in Harper Woods on Harper Avenue, this was the first drive-in to open in the Detroit area. It opened as the Drive-In on May 26, 1938. The movie on opening night was “The Big Broadcast of 1938” with W. C. Fields. It had a capacity for 675 cars. Later renamed East Side Drive-In, it was operated for many years by General Cinema Corporation. It was later part of the Wisper & Wetsman chain Car capacity in later years is listed at 970. In the 1970’s it was showing adult movies.

The East Side Drive-In closed around 1977 and was demolished a year later. The West Side Drive-In located in Oak Park (also long gone) was a sister theatre to the East Side Drive-In.

Contributed by Lost Memory

Recent comments (view all 4 comments)

DavidZornig on September 26, 2015 at 4:42 pm

Grand Opening print ad added courtesy of Christeen Landino.

davidcoppock on March 17, 2019 at 5:01 am

Site is now a hotel(Parkhurst Inn). There is a light pole with two lights on top in a small carpark behind Parkhurst Inn, that might be from the drive-in?

MichaelKilgore on September 18, 2019 at 3:29 pm

In a fun article in the Feb. 5, 1949 issue of Boxoffice, titled “Drive-Ins as the Projectionist Sees Them,” Don Kennedy described an occasional problem at the East Side.

“Screen visibility has another enemy – the moonbeams. My advice is to never place a screen so that it faces toward the southeast. (If you are going to build in South America, I guess the position is just the opposite.) We found that out at the East Side Drive-In in Detroit, which faces in just about that position. When the moon is in its full period, conditions are worst. On a clear night it will hit the side of the screen structure as it rises, throwing deep shadows and then as it moves around to a more direct view of the screen, the light may become intense enough to cut down visibility and clarity of the picture on the screen.”

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