Duwamish Drive-In

11200 Tukwila International Boulevard,
Seattle, WA 98168

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Duwamish Drive-In

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The Duwamish Drive-In was located next to the Duwamish River in Seattle Washington. It opened 11th May, 1948 and had a capacity for 600 cars. It closed around 1982. The property is now used as office space for Boeing.

Contributed by Lost Memory

Recent comments (view all 10 comments)

paghat on July 5, 2005 at 3:56 pm

The Duwamish Drive In Theater was on 99 Highway/Pacific Highway/Evergreen Highway (all names are correct for the same highway) right where you’d cross over the Duwamish River bridge into Seattle. It was so near the Boeing Plant that Boeing employees were its primary customers, & night shift workers could sometimes time it to go right from the theater to work. Also, if you’d missed the double-bill at the Midway Drive-in fifteen miles south on the same highway, it would play the following week at the Duwamish, so you had a second chance. It was one of the first of the regional drive-ins to give up the ghost in the late 1970s, reopened once or twice for brief failed attempts, then sat unused for another decade or so as a reminder of days gone by. Today it has Boeing buildings on it because company expansion took over the land, but old trees planted by my great-grandfather back when it was a drive-in still shade the back edge of the property overlooking the river. www.weirdwildrealm.com

Parillamilt on August 10, 2011 at 9:30 pm

As of now (2011), the tall trees that were planted on the riverside are being cut down. Looks like nobody will know that there was a drive-in at that location.

rivest266 on January 20, 2012 at 4:27 pm

This opened on May 11th, 1948. Ad posted here.

R Norenberg
R Norenberg on June 18, 2012 at 9:02 pm

The duwamish drive in was one of the first of the United Theatre drive in chains. It was also the first drive in that United closed. It was closed because it was on leased land, and the land owners wanted to sell it for more than the theater chain thought it was worth. However some of the speaker poles survive today, as they were moved to the Valley drive in and converted to antenna clips for the Cine-fi system, when the Valley 3 became the Valley 6. I the Duwamish drive in closed in 1978 or 79.

sunflower on April 25, 2017 at 11:36 am

@paghat I’m trying to do research on this drive-in, and I can’t seem to find much information anywhere…how do you know so much about it? I would love to hear what you know about it, or if you know anywhere I could find more information that would be incredibly helpful.

Seattleprojectionist on April 25, 2017 at 7:43 pm

I can a small amount of information. The opening projectionist in 1948 was Mr. Ashley (Ash) Bridgham. The closing projectionist in 1979 was the same Ashley Bridgham. Ash worked other theaters in the area between these dates but he did both open and close this drive in. Prior to the Duwamish, Ash had worked at the Roxy in Renton. He started his career in the late 1920’s. He retired along with the theater in 1979 and passed away about 1984 or so. Ash told me that due to the swampy wetland to the north of the site, mosquitos were a bit of an issue at this theater. The theater was never automated and remained a manual booth to it’s closing day. It had Brenkert BX-80 projectors and RCA soundheads. It is possible I can find some more information in the files of the old projectionists union local 154 in Seattle. I am an officer of IA local 15 that now represents the few remaining Union projectionists in Seattle.

sunflower on April 26, 2017 at 8:51 am

@seattleprojectionish Wow, thank you so much for your information. It’s firsthand accounts like this that I am really looking for. Would you be willing to get in touch and have a conversation about the Theater? Also, I looked into IA local 15. Super cool that you’re a part of it. Are the files you speak of available to the public, say, a curious researcher?

sunflower on April 26, 2017 at 8:53 am

Do you know if this theater had any correlation to the Duwamish Tribe?

R Norenberg
R Norenberg on July 24, 2017 at 2:37 pm

@sunflower No the theatre had no relation to the Duwamish tribe. This Theatre was owned by United Theatres which was a sister company to Pacific Theatres of California owned by the Foreman Family. United Theatres typically named their drive ins after the local area. Kenmore drive in was in Kenmore, Aurora was in aurora ect. The Duwamish was along the Duwamish river so I suspect that it was named after the river. Hopefully that helps.

davidcoppock on July 25, 2017 at 2:19 am

I think the river was named after the the Duwamish tribe(the Duwamish River is listed on Wikpedia).

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