Y & W Drive-In

6680 Broadway,
Merrillville, IN 46410

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Showing 19 comments

davidcoppock on July 25, 2017 at 2:21 am

Why the name Y & W?

rivest266 on July 24, 2017 at 12:59 pm

2 screens on September 4th, 1971. Ad in the photo section.

rivest266 on July 24, 2017 at 8:09 am

This opened on May 29th, 1953. Grand opening ad in the photo section.

DavidZornig on August 18, 2014 at 3:39 am

Here is an article on a current exhibit on the Y&W. Copy and paste the link, or search “nwi.com Y&W drive-in”.


Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on September 14, 2010 at 3:15 pm

In 1956 it held 940 cars.

RJT70mm on October 6, 2009 at 9:35 am

There’s a picture of a drive in booth in some Strong Electric ads from around 1960 showing Strong Jetarc lamps. Could this be the Y&W booth?

mallory on February 2, 2009 at 8:58 pm

I’m so happy to have found this website about Y&W. I hope that several will see my post and may be able to help me. I’m looking for additional information on the carousel that used to operate at the drive-in. In the last 90s, I was able to purchase one of the horses off the carousel. It was in very rough shape. We had it restored and I’m now hoping to find some memorabilia from the Y&W to hang on the wall next to it. Does anyone know if there were tickets or tokens to ride the carousel? If so, does anyone have one? I’m also looking for any program or brochure or anything like that mentions the carousel as well as photos of when it was up and running. Thank you for any help you can provide!

Elizabeth (.nz)

milla1 on June 26, 2008 at 10:04 am

I grew up in Hobart and frequented the Y&W throughout the 80’s and early 90’s. It was heartbreaking watching it steadily decline. Some of my fondest childhood memories were there. I remember when the train and carousel were still running and seeing movies like E.T., Explorers, The Fly, The first Batman movie, Jurassic Park….and I think the first movie I saw there was Clash of the Titans..so that was probably 70’s? We take our children now to the single screen 49er drive-in in Valpo…not the same..but all that’s left here in NWI. Some night’s it sells out an hour before dusk and it’s such a shame there is no where else to go :–(

itsvoodoo on June 11, 2007 at 5:37 pm

I grew up in Merrillville, and I was sad to see the Y&W go after all these years. During the summer months.. for years.. I’ve always gone there every Friday night to see movies. They would always show 2 movies… than the first one a 3rd time.. I loved it!

The sign was spectacular! I wish I had a photo of it… it’s one of my biggest regrets.. never getting a picture of it.

jackshaw on November 28, 2006 at 4:09 pm

One comment about Indiana Drive-ins. There was the Dunes Drive-in in Lake Station (East Gary) Indiana. Saw the Shining there. Got a great teenage story that happened at the Dunes: A car-load of us guys went to the movies and as a car-load of guys often did, we were misbehaving. Someone at the concession stand called the Lake Station Police on us. We know this because a friend ran back to our car and tipped us off. We saw the Police car pull up at the concesion stand and then take off like a bullet for our car, but a funny thing happened on the way. He smacked right into a speaker pole going about 30mph. across the parking lot. He never made it to our car. OOPS!

jackshaw on November 28, 2006 at 3:59 pm

I love the Movies, however I have a bit of trouble with the Drive in Concept. Not the theater’s fault, it’s just that the last time My wife and I went to the Y&W, we fell asleep. When we woke up, we were the only car in the parking lot. I use to get too comfortable in the Drive ins. Could have been those darned reclining seats! I did enjoy the Banko. Loved to listen to the guy read off the numbers. Kind of quirkie, but entertaining. Made good memories for me.

kencmcintyre on May 20, 2006 at 10:16 am

Here is an interesting article about the Y&W:

JohnSanchez on July 11, 2005 at 6:56 am

My first visit to the Y&W was in the spring of 1976. My dad took me to see “Lucky Lady” with Burt Reynolds and Gene Hackman. The second feature was a long forgotten comedy starring Alan Arkin called “Rafferty and the Gold Dust Twins” which I thought was pretty good and would love to see again. I also remember seeing “The Omen” on screen 2 and “The Exorcist” was playing on screen 1. Off and on I would sneak a peek at Screen 1 but was too scared to look for long. Other films I saw there in the 70’s included “Return to Witch Mountain” plus “The Gnome-Mobile”; “Peter Pan”, “Halloween” plus a low budget Chuck Conners slasher film called “Tourist Trap.” My fondest memory would be seeing “Young Frankenstein” in a 1977 re-release. Beyond screen 1 in the distance lightning flashed every few minutes which really added to the movie. I can also remember the Y&W did fireworks every Memorial Day, Labor Day, and the 4th of July. Up until the early 70’s I think they even did them on New Year’s Eve. A buddy of mine and I went on a fireworks night in the 80’s and the display was terrific – still one of the best I have seen and something my buddy and I still talk about to this day.

JohnSanchez on June 13, 2005 at 5:37 am

The initals were for the chain that opened the drive in originally. It stands for Young and Wolfe.

dave-bronx™ on June 12, 2005 at 11:18 pm

What did the initials “Y&W” stand for?

margmom30 on March 20, 2005 at 4:24 pm

Growing up it was rare for my family to go to the movies, so I remember clearly my first visit to the Y&W. My parents took us to see ET. It was a few years after it first came out but it was the first time we had seen it. It was a lot of fun to see such a great movie without having to leave our car. My mom had a picnic dinner and we ate while watching the movie. We talked dad into staying for the second feature which was Explorers. My parents thought that movie was awful but we kids love it, and every time I see those movies now I remember the fun we had at the drive in. Such a wonderful family outing.

CraigSCummings on September 14, 2004 at 5:11 pm

The information at top is partly INCORRECT. The Y&W opened May 29, 1953. My grandfather Al Leith and his Gary Well & Pump Company dug the wells and installed the pumping for all of the drive-ins water supply.

The screens #2 & #3 were erected on portions of the field previously part of the field for the ONE screen. Thus the original capacity was around 1600 cars.

In ‘53 & '54 the Y&W ran quite a number of duel-strip 3-D movies.
In late '54 the original screen was replaced by a wide one to accomidate 2.35 CinemaScope. It was Flat (as apposed to some in the area such as the 41 Drive-In, which erected a huge Curved screen a bit earlier).

From ‘55 through early 70’s a “sneak encore” third feature was run on (first year Saturday nights only, then) Friday and Saturday nights after the two regular features. The title was UNannounced and a title from years past.

The Playground was set off to the left side of the screen and ran almost the entire length of the field. In warm months a cvonsiderable number of Usher Attendants were employed to watch and operate equipment, which included a train on track that ran around the entire playground, mechanical rides such as boats in water, ect, and of course slides and swings.

The Y&W was the first in the area to have in-car heaters, and the first in the area to be open year round.

I worked as Head Usher (& just about Assistant Manager) from October of ‘62 to May of '63, often in charge of 5 to 7 other ushers. We wore Red hats with saucer bills and heavy dark red coats supplied by the management. In warmer months lighter coats were of course supplied.

Cars on the field faced West, the screen East and toward the entrance off Broadway.

I have gathered considerable information on the Y&W, and am always in search of more.

ALSO, I am seeking ANY and all information on the PALACE and TIVOLI Theatres in Gary, IN.

Craig S. Cummings

JohnSanchez on March 2, 2004 at 7:12 am

I just drove by the Y&W a few days ago and, sadly, it has been demolished. The screens, concession stands, and projectionist booths are all gone. The foundation to one of the projection booths is all that is left for now. It’s too bad that an almost 60 year old icon of the area has now disappeared forever with no trace. I hear that either a credit union or storage facility will be built on the site in the near future.

MovieMan26 on February 2, 2004 at 5:54 pm

This drive-in was operated by the M&R theater chain back in the 1980’s then lowes in the 1990’s.