Tower Drive-In

E. Bird Street at N. Florida Avenue,
Tampa, FL 33604

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Playbill for Tower Drive-In

Named after the Sulphur Springs water tower, a local landmark, this drive-in was located on the Hillsboroough River and opened October 22, 1952 with David Wayne in “Wait ‘til the Sun Shines, Nellie” & George Montgomery in “Dakota Lil”. By 1957 the Tower Drive-In was operated by Floyd Theaters.

The theater was leveled in 1985 in anticipation for an apartment complex that never materialized. The ramps, driveway, assorted debris, and outline of the property remain, however. The site has since been purchased by the City of Tampa as part of its Sulphur Springs riverfront park. The water tower still stands, as well, and is visible for miles.

Contributed by Andy

Recent comments (view all 65 comments)

Juan1941 on April 20, 2012 at 10:39 pm

Thanks, Dan, for enhancing the Tower signage photo. I did, indeed, come across a poor-quality version of the photo at another site. This is great. Too bad there isn’t a shot of the concession stand, or of all the cars in the theater. I guess we should feel lucky to have the signage.

Thomas_Rogers on January 12, 2013 at 9:57 pm

the shakes pizzaria use to be across the street eat there and hurry over to catch the attack of the killer tomatoes and the return of the killer tomatoes with very young george cloony! Thomas Rogers

Juan1941 on January 13, 2013 at 3:30 am

I don’t recall a Shakey’s Pizza there, but my experience is limited to the 1960s. What time period are you talking about?

tampapix on January 13, 2013 at 4:01 pm

Shakey’s Pizza Parlor was on the west side of Fla. Ave. at Bird St. Hear this radio ad I posted a while back. I think you’ll need to be a Facebook member to hear it, since I posted it at Tampa Natives facebook page.

tampapix on January 13, 2013 at 4:06 pm

Sorry, meant to include that the Shakey’s radio ad is from 1966, when it just opened.

Juan1941 on January 13, 2013 at 4:40 pm

Thanks, tampapix. I moved from Sulphur Springs to near downtown Tampa in 1964, so the 1966 opening explains why I didn’t remember it.

redjayd on March 8, 2016 at 6:03 pm

My Grandmother (Lois McLeod) ran the Tower Drive Inn in the 70’s. I worked the concession and climb up on the marquee to add movie titles. She has since passed. She was a strong and hard working woman. Even after getting robbed and hit in the head one night at the ticket booth.

Mikeoaklandpark on August 2, 2017 at 6:06 pm

I hated this drive in like all Floyd theaters. They wanted the screen full all the time so any movie in scope would be off to the sides of the screen in the bushes.

rivest266 on September 30, 2017 at 4:31 pm

This opened on October 22nd, 1952. Grand opening ad with aerial in the photo section and below

Found on

davidcoppock on October 20, 2018 at 8:25 pm

Demolished in 1985.

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