Portland's Ghosts of Drive-Ins Past

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I will fully admit that I am just slightly too young to truly appreciate the cultural phenomenon that was the drive-in movie theater. By the time I was old enough to drive a car, and by the time I was old enough still to go on serious dates, the drive-in theater had lost out in favor of more traditional theater experiences. I do remember going to the drive-in once in my late teenage years. It was a showing of Baz Luhrmann's Romeo and Juliet staring Leonardo Dicaprio and Claire Danes. It wasn't the greatest of movie watching experiences, in no small part because I was driving a mid-1980's Toyota Tercel and it wasn't exactly the most comfortable car to sit in for long periods of time. 

I am convinced to this day that it wasn't the drive-in experience itself that fell out of favor with people, but more the loss of super lounge potential bench seats in cars that ultimately made the drive-in less appealing.  

Officially speaking, there are no longer any drive-in movie theaters within the Portland city limits. I am aware there is a drive-in theater located in Newburg that is quite popular but I have yet to visit. Sitting down and typing this blog post has made me think I should make it a point to go sometime in the near future. There are however some remains of Portland's old drive-in theaters still lingering around the city. I like to fondly refer to them as "architectural ghosts." Throughout the years they have been repurposed, or in the case of one sign in particular, very lazily preserved, but the bones of their drive-in movie theater past are unmistakable. 


Portland Drive-In Theater

If you've ever driven up or down 82nd Avenue in Portland, you've probably noticed this giant sign at least once. It has been repurposed so many times it is barely recognizable as a drive-in theater, but yet here it still remains. The 82nd Street Drive-In opened in 1948. A second screen was installed in 1976 before ultimately closing in 1985. Later the lot would become a shopping mall, then a large church, and now it sits as the parking extension area for students attending classes at Portland Community College. 


Portland Drive-In Theater

The 104th Street Drive-In opened in 1959 and eventually upgraded to two screens in the 1970's before ultimately closing in 1986. Over the years it went by many names including, United Drive-Ins, Favorite Theaters, and Moyer Theater. Today the final version of the sign can be found along outer Powell Blvd with a cage erected around it, on can assume to preserve the historical value of the sign. 

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I found an old advertisement online for the opening of the 104th Street Drive-In. Pardon the poor image quality, but I thought it was pretty neat. I would have loved to experience Curse Of The Undead sitting at the drive-in back in 1959. Perhaps driving and old Studebaker? Yeah, I can dream can't I?

Andrew Kaiser

My name is Andrew Kaiser, welcome to my site! I have a passion for making images wherever and whenever I can. I seek to capture humanity and the world around me with a focus on the figure. Film, digital, pinhole, and instant photography are all fair game for me.

I grew up in the California Bay Area and started taking photography seriously in High School. I was one of the lucky few who had a chance to go to a high school with a working darkroom and a teacher who understood that making images was an art form – care and patience was a necessity in the image making process from start to finish.

Later in life I attended the University of California in Santa Cruz where I received a Bachelors Degree in the History of Art and Visual Culture. After having my fill of the California sunshine I packed up my life and moved to the Pacific Northwest. I quickly found the overcast skies, lush forests, cooler temperatures, and creative communities to be a perfect match for my work.

Over the years I have exhibited my photographs in several galleries and art shows including the Seattle Erotic Arts Festival and Cascade AIDS Project. I’ve published a few books and taught workshops up and down the west coast of the United States. Through this site I’m hoping to share my work and perhaps inspire others along the way.