Nostalgic Photos of America’s Rapidly Vanishing Drive-In Theater Culture

A symbol of more innocent times, the drive-in theater hit peak popularity in the ‘50s and ‘60s. They accounted for about 25 percent of movie screens in the United States. As of 2013, that number has dwindled to a pitiful 1.5 percent (under 400 drive-ins) due to the rise of home video and digital media. Photographer Stefanie Klavens, whose work we first admired on Beautiful/Decay, has a great affection for the drive-in theater and documents the few that remain across the country. “From the ornate city palace to the intimate small-town movie house my photographic journey has taken me all over the country,” she writes on her website. “I strive to record this rapidly vanishing era in American popular culture. Through this series I explore the history of architecture and design, the evolution of our social history and habits, and the importance of preserving a record of the past.” Step into the past with Klavens’ Vanishing Drive-Ins series, below.

Photo credit: Stefanie Klavens
Photo credit: Stefanie Klavens