El Rancho Drive-In
1505 Almaden Road,
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The El Rancho Drive-In was located at the corner of W. Alma Avenue and what is now Almaden Expressway in San Jose. It was opened in 1950. The outstanding element of decor here was the back side of the screen, which faced the intersection of W. Alma Avenue and Vine Street. It had a huge depiction of a cowboy on a horse with a lasso on an earth-toned background, all outlined in glowing white neon to give a backlit effect. There was a covered ramp seating area which had 163 Heywood-Wakefield chairs that were covered with Lumite upholstery fabric.
The El Rancho Drive-In was replaced by condos in the early-1980’s. This theatre thrived for years just a few blocks away from the Spartan Drive-In which was located at South 1st Street and Alma Avenue. The Spartan Drive-In disappeared around the same time as the El Rancho Drive-In and has been replaced by an office complex.
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