Bel-Air Drive-In

3101 S. Cicero Avenue,
Cicero, IL 60804

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Showing 1 - 25 of 34 comments

Trolleyguy on September 8, 2017 at 7:04 am

I used to go there as well. I heard the same stories about the landfill or scrapyard.

JAYJay on September 6, 2017 at 10:56 am

I went there a few times back in the early 1960s I was always told that it was built on an old landfill / garbage dump. Can anyone verify this ?

rivest266 on November 11, 2016 at 12:45 am

This opened as the World’s largest drive-in with the World’s largest screen on March 2nd, 1956. The grand opening ad can be found in the photo section.

Kenmore on August 25, 2016 at 11:17 am

The Admiral Twin in Tulsa is one. It was featured in the film “The Outsiders” although that particular screen burned down in 2009. A metal one replaced it and the drive in is still open today.

davidcoppock on August 25, 2016 at 1:47 am

“Where are the other drive-ins with two-sided screens(i didn’t know there was such a thing!)?”

Savage on August 1, 2016 at 1:12 pm

This was a drive in I frequently went to every summer as a kid during the 1980s! The Bel Air had the worst food (hot foil bagged burritos,dry hamburgers & hot dogs).. But ,they had a great play ground on one of the sides of the double sided screen!..I also remember the “adult screen” and how the opposite side faced the side of the double sided screen … But,me and some other kids would sometimes sneak over there and laugh at the adults beep their horns at a naked girl on screen!…Ah memories!

Kenmore on September 28, 2015 at 9:03 am

The Admiral Twin in Tulsa, which is still operating also has a double-sided screen.

Cliff Carson
Cliff Carson on July 21, 2015 at 12:24 am

Looks like a really romantic Drive In Theatre. A sad shame the community allowed it to die

VintageBob on July 12, 2015 at 5:31 pm

I’m hoping someone here can help me find some info. I’m trying to remember a particular showing here at the Bel Air around 1980 or 1981. They had an all-night movie line up of horror movies. There were 5 or 6 playing that evening, back to back. Among them were “The Rats Are Coming, the Werewolves Are Here” and I believe “The Hills Have Eyes” and maybe a Dr. Phibes or Count Yorga movie, and a few others. I’ve been scouring the Chicago Tribune archives, but that is SLOW going. Any idea where or how I can narrow this search down? Movie release dates won’t help since they were all older movies playing.

elkayo56 on November 16, 2014 at 8:15 am

I saw 1963’s Cleopatra and El Cid there. When I was young I would stand on the overpass and watch movies without sound. Sorry to see it go.

Marquita on March 27, 2014 at 8:32 pm

I use to go here all. The time when I was a kid was sad when the close it I showed my daughter this place an she wanted to go she never been to a drive-in so I’m going to find one an take her so she can experience some of the things I did when I was a kid really wish they would have kept it open this is something u can njoy with your kids n the summer

psycmeistr on August 17, 2012 at 8:28 pm

My first experience at the Bel Air drive in was in 1966. My parents bought their first and only brand new car— a 1966 Ford Country Sedan station wagon. All us kids piled in the wagon and went to the Bel Air- I still remember the movies: Munsters Go Home, and The Ghost and Mr. Chicken… :o)

rivest266 on June 19, 2012 at 4:27 pm

This may has been opened in 1956. The 1951 aerial shows empty land.

TLSLOEWS on July 16, 2010 at 12:31 pm

Google map shows the remains of this Loews-Cineplex Bel-Air Drive-in.

MKuecker on April 21, 2008 at 5:14 pm

The Bel-Air was great. You never could get the frequency on the radio, so you had to use the speakers. The last film we saw at The Bel-Air was Pet Cemetary. I always remember that at about 10:15 they’d interrupt you with the annoucement that the consession stand is closing in 15 minutes, and that means the restrooms will be closed too. One young man was cute one night and said “So if you need to use the restroom, go now or forever hold your pees”
So, Wal-Mart eh? Not a place I would ever shop, not even for the $4 prescriptions. on December 31, 2007 at 11:14 pm

They want to build a walmart there eh, what a shocker. I found the Bel-Air site on Google maps street view, the screens are definitely gone, bummer. That two sided screen was a very cool concept. There was also one in Indy (gone) called the Theatair Twin and the Admiral Twin in Tulsa, which is still open. Ron/

VintageBob on February 11, 2007 at 7:17 pm

Sadly, I saw some cranes and other equipment when I drove past the area last week. I suspect they’re getting ready to tear it down. And so dies another historic site. :–(

PiD on December 27, 2006 at 8:48 am

Quote from The Chicago Sun-Times

Business briefs

December 15, 2006

Retail planned for Cicero site

Cicero trustees have approved plans for a Wal-Mart store and a Lowe’s Home Improvement store to be built near 31st Street and Cicero Avenue, at the site of a former drive-in movie theater, the Bel-Air, said a spokesman for the developer, Monroe Investment Partners of Chicago. Prior to the Bel-Air drive-in, the property was used as a landfill and a quarry. The 217,000-square-foot Wal-Mart and the 150,000-square-foot Lowe’s stores are expected to open at the end of 2007 or in early 2008. The site will be difficult to develop because a berm circling the drive-in, standing as high as 70 feet in some places, must be taken down, the developer’s spokesman said. The property is about two blocks from the old Sportsman’s Park racetrack, an 80-acre site the town wants to develop into a lifestyle shopping center.

View link

ewokpelts on December 3, 2006 at 1:52 am

It’s still up, but I doubt it’ll ever re-open. There’s too much commercial re-development going on to convince the land owners(assuming it’s not loews/amc) to let a drive in operate instead of a big box retailer.

DonRosen on June 29, 2006 at 1:54 am

>>The Bel-Air typically screened double-features, and was one of the only drive-ins in the US to feature two-sided screens, enabling the theater to show two different double bills at once.<<

The 41 Twin in Franklin, WI (Milwaukee ‘burb) also had the two sided screen.

CHICTH74 on June 28, 2006 at 8:21 pm

I rember going over the bridge that connects i think 31st with Cicero Ave and seeing people sitting on the walk way with lawn chairs watching the movie on the screen that face the bridge,and if i recall right their was some kind of roadway to the bluff that over looked the screens and people would drive up and park and watch the movie for free more or less. Cuse at night when the movie`s were being viewed you could hear the speakers from the cars that paid to see the flim.
Also if i recall right the police from Chicago and from Cicero took turns moving people off of the bridge becuse as i said before that would sit on the walk way and watch the movie and the people in cars would stop and look at the people and this would cause a goucker block. But this was a very good Drive-in i rember it well good memories. :) Thank You fore you time.

DuPageDude on November 18, 2005 at 3:38 pm

I went past the drive-in yesterday, it’s really sad…Abandoned, gravel and chunks of concrete in huge piles all over the place. I don’t give it much hope of ever reopening. The speedway across the street has been closed for a few years now, and is slowly being disassembled. The entire area is going downhill fast!