Geneva 4 Drive-In

607 Carter Street,
Daly City, CA 94014

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Geneva 4 Drive-In

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Opened with a single screen on June 15, 1950 on the site of an abandoned midget car racing track. The Geneva Drive-In was one of the most celebrated drive-ins in the San Francisco Bay area and had a car capacity for 771. Writer Hunter S. Thompson was a frequent visitor to the Geneva Drive-In, and wrote of his experiences there.

Located in South San Francisco’s Excelsior district, the Geneva Drive-In underwent many changes in its 50-year history. In the hopes that car racing would return to the area, the original owner left the vast grandstand in place, adding new screens and multiple features for the area residents.

Adjacent to the Cow Palace arena, the Geneva Drive-In survived many social and economic changes in the local community, and despite its poor surroundings, flourished through the period when most Bay Area drive-ins were closing by the dozens.

The Geneva 4 abruptly closed in 1999. Flea markets were still held at the site for another year, but the Geneva 4 Drive-In was abandoned in 2000.

Oddly enough (possibly due to the economic downturn of the area), Century Theatres chose to allow the Geneva 4 Drive-In to quietly decay for the next two years. Then, in March of 2002, the Geneva 4 Drive-In was unceremoniously demolished.

The site still remains vacant. The ramps and many speaker poles still remain, as does a small marquee at the Carter Street entrance, which is now fenced off to deter trespassers.

Contributed by Jason

Recent comments (view all 10 comments)

kencmcintyre on January 14, 2006 at 9:44 am

Is there any chance that this drive-in and the Geneva Drive-In in San Francisco are one and the same?

larrygoldsmith on August 28, 2010 at 3:45 pm

ken mc
Yes, this is the same drive-in. Daly City/South City are just a little south of SF, or suburbs if you will. Geneva DI was adjacent to the Cow Palace. This area now is not very safe.

tarantex on August 28, 2010 at 9:23 pm

This Drive was such a dump. I worked there for 2 weeks with a OLD lady she was training me. I left after I was shot at coming from the Box Office to the Snack Bar. very seedy crowd, and when the Cow palace had a show it was impossiable to get out of the Theatre lines of cars at a stand still. its good it been demolished.

Marklar on January 5, 2013 at 9:28 pm

Those grand stands in the back are a trip! Could people sit up there and watch movies or where they off limits?

Scott Neff
Scott Neff on January 15, 2013 at 1:37 pm

I’m sure they had to have been off limits. That part of town has always been rowdy so I imagine during drive-in business the rowdiness just got worse.

stevenj on January 16, 2013 at 8:51 am

The location mentioned above “Located in South San Francisco’s Excelsior district” should read “Located in Daly City” as this drive in is just across the SF city/county line. The Excelsior district is in San Francisco about 1 mile northwest of this location and South San Francisco is about 5 miles south of here. The closest neighborhoods are Sunnydale, across Geneva Ave from the Cow Palace (SF) and Bayshore (Daly City), just southeast of the Cow Palace.

Jemimah63 on June 6, 2013 at 2:27 pm

Midget cars? I always heard it was a dog track…Maybe both?

And to nearby neighborhoods, add Visitacion Valley..

DonMcD on October 15, 2013 at 9:49 am

I was the assistant manager there in 1970-71…the grandstands were a wreck even then, totally unsafe…it should be noted that Syufy Enterprises(owners of the theatre)did NOT own the land there, any more than they owned the land under any of their drive-ins.

Can’t swear to this, but we were told that there was a clause in the land lease that gave the owner the right to take back the land at any time if dog racing were to become legal again…

Regarding the safety of the place, it wasn’t the greatest area, but in the two years I was there no employee was ever mugged, let alone injured…nor (so far as we knew) were any customers…however I’m told it kept going downhill…

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