Bel-Air Drive-In

Bel Air Drive,
Granite City, IL 62040

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Bel-Air Drive-In

Viewing: Photo | Street View

The Bel-Air Drive-In opened in the mid-1950’s as a single-screen drive-in, situated off the historic Route 66. It was originally part of the Mid-America Theatres chain, based in St. Louis. In the 1970’s, a second screen was built. At one time, the Bel-Air Drive-In could accomodate about 700 cars.

Its concession building also housed a tiny indoor seating area, with a large picture window, for when the weather was bad (since it was originally open year-round).

BAC Theatres ran the drive-in from 1982 until it closed in 1987. The Bel-Air Drive-In was completely demolished by the mid-1990’s except for its colorful and classy marquee (a large, bright red bell is behind the name of the drive-in), still in fairly good shape (except for the “R” in the “Air” part of the theater’s name is missing).

An industrial park is being constructed on the site of the Bel-Air Drive-In.

Contributed by Bryan

Recent comments (view all 14 comments)

VentArc on January 26, 2009 at 9:18 pm

As a kid back in the late 50’s, the projectionists (Van and Ronnie, I still remember their names) let me stand in the projection room doorway to watch the action. Strong Super 135 arc lamps, Simplex XL projectors, a changeover every 20 minutes — it was a much better show than the movie. A door on the rear wall led to the motor-generator room (to rectify current for the arc lamps), with a door on the other side leading back to the concession area. The projection ports didn’t have glass but had blowers to keep out the bugs (and cold air in the winter). Seems like just yesterday.

DavidZornig on September 25, 2009 at 8:52 pm

Here’s a silly question.
Did the Bel-Air Drive In’s name actually have the hyphen/dash in the middle of it?
The sign appears to have taken some creative license with an extended portion of the “A”. But with the spacing between the “Bel” and the “Air”, it appears to me to really be just the “Bel Air”.

I only ask because all of the posts refer to it as the Bel-Air. Just curious. I guess only the incorporation papers might yield the answer. Just curious.

kencmcintyre on September 26, 2009 at 10:20 am

That photo looks familiar.

kencmcintyre on September 26, 2009 at 10:45 am

It was hidden under another one. No worries.

JAlex on December 27, 2009 at 11:47 am

Venue operated from 1953 to 1986. The second screen was added in 1979.

Stomp on September 16, 2012 at 10:53 pm

Saw a war movie here that took place in the Vietnam era. Very violent. A guy was walking down a path and a tree stump with spikes came out of a tree and impaled him. LOL Far out.Wish I could remember the name of the movie. Also saw the Dick Van Dyke flick “Cold Turkey”.

DAL on September 17, 2012 at 9:03 am

That Vietnam movie sounds like “The Green Berets” with John Wayne. Jim Hutton met his demise in the fashion described.

Kenmore on February 26, 2015 at 5:53 am

In addition to the marquee, you can still see a partial outline and some ramps.

jwmovies on September 16, 2016 at 3:07 pm

Address is now Granite City not Mitchell. Bel Air Avenue is where the entrance was located. Some of the ramps are still visible.

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