North Dade Drive-In

17175 NW 27th Avenue,
Miami, FL 33056

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Grand opening ad

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This drive-in was owned and operated by the Wometco chain from its opening in 1956 until its closure in 1986. It had a capacity for 765 cars.

A shopping center was built on the site of the drive-in.

Contributed by Eric harvey

Recent comments (view all 10 comments)

Harvey
Harvey on March 24, 2008 at 8:19 pm

SHOPPING PLAZA PLANNED AT DRIVE-IN SITE
Miami Herald, The (FL) – August 13, 1989

Author: AMINDA MARQUES GONZALEZ Herald Staff Writer

The brittle plastic sign, crumbling since the last movie flickered on the screen years ago, still advertises the North Dade Drive-in Theater.

It is but the tattered remains of the Wometco drive-in theater that opened in 1956 with searchlights fanning the sky, a blimp flying over the 10-acre site, and local celebrities such as newsman Ralph Renick attending the grand opening.

The feature attraction was Marty and the Gunfighter.

In the heyday of the drive-in, the North Dade theater was one of 25 in Dade County. None outlived videocassette recorders and cable television. Only one drive-in survives in Broward County.

Wometco held onto the North Dade Drive-in until 1986.

Now, after sitting vacant and overgrown for years, a new sign has been posted in front of the property at 17175 NW 27th Ave.

Come October, construction begins there on a new shopping center, said Terry Francen, leasing director for Plaza Development Group.

“We’re building this, no question,” he said.

On July 27, the Metro Commission removed a covenant on the property, which was zoned for a flea market, to permit a proposed shopping center and to allow submission of a new site plan for a proposed 99,678-square-foot retail complex.

Those plans, 80 percent complete, call for a Winn-Dixie store, a McCrory’s and a Rite-Aid drug store, Francen said.

“It happens to be easy to build a shopping center there,” he said. “It’s pretty much ready to build on.”

The site was chosen because the Winn-Dixie store at Northwest 27th Avenue and 183rd Street had outgrown that location and needed room nearby to expand, he said.

“It’s a good area,” Francen said. “We’ve gotten a lot of response. We’ll probably be 80 to 90 percent leased before we
put a shovel in the ground.”

AlAlvarez
AlAlvarez on August 23, 2008 at 5:03 pm

My Film Yearbook shows room for 850 cars.

awe4one
awe4one on November 11, 2009 at 8:16 am

I used to live directly across the street from this theater in 1968/1969 (the house on the corner). My mother used to take us kids to triple features of Hammer and other classic horror flicks there. The Witches left a great impression and it was my first exposure to Peter Cushing and Vincent Price. Great times. They also used to show Godzilla flicks during this time.

rivest266
rivest266 on January 17, 2010 at 12:37 pm

This drive-in opened on April 27th, 1956. Grand opening ad in the Wometco ad is at View link

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on May 29, 2010 at 2:07 pm

See “THE CHEERLEADERS” was released as an R rated movie,must have been cut.1977 ad.

NYozoner
NYozoner on January 26, 2011 at 10:52 pm

17175 NW 27th Ave, Miami Gardens, FL 33056

The above address will map accurately to the location of the drive-in, which was in Miami Gardens near the Miami-Dade County line. While the street address in the heading is correct, the town and zip code is not.

AlAlvarez
AlAlvarez on March 16, 2011 at 2:00 pm

I am not sure how CT handles this, but the city of Miami Gardens did not exist when this drive-in was in operation.

rivest266
rivest266 on October 16, 2011 at 10:54 am

Aerial photo and the grand opening ad posted here.

EHB18
EHB18 on November 5, 2011 at 1:18 pm

There’s a lot I could say about this theater that was for about 14 years, my home away from home. I lived on the West side down 171st street, at the corner of 34th Ave. My family moved to Carol City at the very beginning of having been established as a community. In a symbolic way, the North Dade Drive-In and I started out together. What I’ve always remembered about the North Dade Drive-In were two individuals who helped run the theater. The first was the gray-haired, rather distinguished looking manger, always dressed in what looked like a tuxedo. The old-man managed the theater until he suffered a heart-attack and then was replaced. Second, and perhaps the most popular was the blonde curly haired lady at the snack-counter by the name of “Bonnie.” During the many years she worked behind the counter, either passing out drinks, food or at the register, she would become a remarkably recognizable figure, so strongly associated to the drive-in.

Like it is with any neighborhood theater, going to the drive-in was a weekly ritual. If not with my family, we’d go every Saturday night with other neighbors, pouring ourselves into the back crowded seat of a station wagon or even a neighbor’s truck! It was always an exciting time, come Saturday night, meeting up with other friends, who were also making it a weekend routine to see a movie at North Dade Drive-In. It’s always been interesting to me that while growing up and going to the theater, I also learned or was exposed to various aspects of life. The drive-in and whatever movie was showing was as much a learning experience as it was being at home in front of our little black and white television set or those times at school. North Dade Drive-In was a place that allowed all of us growing up in Carol City, a window to view the outside world on a grand scale. It was a world that for all intended purposes was mostly “make-believe” and was basically an escape all of us sought, looking forward to this refuge the drive-in offer us.

Perhaps the biggest of all exciting times at North Dade Drive-In was the annual 4th of July fireworks display. This event turned out to be for many kids who lived in Carol City and the adjoining communities, the very first time we saw a real pyrotechnics presentation. I remember the combustible devices, place at the bottom front of the big screen, being lit one by one, flying fast and high into the night sky, lighting up the big screen in reflective colors. I imagine the homes around the theater enjoyed the fireworks, as did people many outside the perimeter of theater, in park cars who freely watched as the night sky colorfully lit up that area of 27th Avenue.

What a wonderful time those long ago nights were for us growing up in a community that was pretty much a rather forgotten, if not, out of the way corner of Dade County. Yet, the glory or supposed dominance of the North Dade Drive-In for the area was in some ways closely shadowed that year of 1956, when North Dade opened for business, after the eariler opening of the grand and even bigger Golden Glades Twin drive-in. What made this situation of the Golden Glades Twin significant for my family was being only two blocks from where we lived. With two big screens and close access, naturally this brought on some decision making and debates among the neighbors on where to go for that Saturday night. What gave the twin drive-in an advantage from the perspective of the kids was its playground facilities that the North Dade didn’t have.

Another wonderful occurrence to remember about North Dade Drive-in was a few of those traveling carnival magic shows and the occasional “Ghost-Horror Show” hired as an extra attraction. The most memorable of these shows that were part of the promotional publicity for a film was the one that included the classic horror movie “Black Sunday.” This was about the only time the drive-in would be filled to capacity having to turn away automobiles and then simply allowing people to walk-in. These traveling shows certainly succeeded in giving the neighborhood excitement and something to talk about at school with friends after the weekend romp.

Of all the films that I can remember having seen at North Dade, perhaps the most memorable experience was the big Paramount Pictures musical version of “Li’l Abner.” What made this showing at the drive-in so special was a rare, Wometco Enterprise “first run” of a major motion picture at one of their local drive-in theaters! Instead of having to drive down-town to see the movie in the air-condition comfort of a big theater, we received the opportunity to have the movie smack-dab, right in our own neighborhood! Interestingly, about a month later, when the film went into general release, “Li’l Abner” showed up at Golden Glades Twin and most everybody I knew went again to see the movie. There had to be this competitive spirit between both Golden Glades and North Dade being so close to each other.

My life in Carol City wouldn’t have been so fruitful and splendid had it not been for those delightful nights I spent with family and friends at North Dade Drive-In. Yet, on a sad note, one of my childhood friends that I went to the drive-in with passed away recently. One of the first things I thought about in association to the passing away of my friend was this drive-in that for me has come to represent numerously special, admirable memories that I experienced growing up. It might sound a bit melodramatic or archaic, but that Drive-In was in so many ways a part of my life and a second, beloved home that offered me at times a magical atmosphere beyond all of life’s simple and chaotic phases. I consider myself lucky to have had the place a part of me and will remain so until the day I leave this earth.

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