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Located on the SE corner of Federal Boulevard and Euclid Avenue. Opened in January 1948, smart Art Moderne styling defined San Diego’s Rancho Drive-In. A giagantic screen-tower was backed by an epic Western motif mural befitting this 1940’s futuristic outdoor cinema. Graceful palms lined seven lanes of entrance drive where white uniformed lot boys stood ready to assist ticket buyers.
Once patrons found just the right dock to park their automobile they could trigger a switch on the speaker post to call a car hop to come and take concession snack orders. Glider swings stood available in front of the oversized silver screen for those who chose not to remain inside a cramped car.
Everything was up to date at the Rancho Drive-In, and ticket sales were brisk. Problem was, it didn’t take too many years before real estate which the theatre occupied to become more valuable than an outdoor theatre could support. The end came rather quietly, no fanfare.
Look below to see quality shots of the Rancho from the LIFE photograph collection
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