The steel orchards of speaker posts have been clear-cut. The clattering, whirring projectors have been scrapped. The smells of popcorn and hotdogs have long since been replaced by the smell of automobile exhaust. And the sounds of Rock and Doris wooing and the Duke “Pilgrim”ing have yielded to the sounds of boom cars thumping and smartphones ringing.
But a few relics of Fort Worth’s drive-in theaters can still be found.
The Pike opened in 1947, named for the Fort Worth-Dallas Pike, which was replaced by today’s U.S. 180. (Photo from University of Texas at Arlington Library Special Collections.)
The Mansfield Road drive-in theater opened in 1950 as “an entertainment wonderland.”
2020 update: The concrete foundation of the ticket kiosks is gone. A church now occupies the site of the Mansfield. Part of the concrete foundation of the concession stand/projection room can be seen from the air.
In a bend of Sycamore Creek just east of Riverside Drive and north of Lancaster Avenue near a natural gas well, from the air you can still make out the concentric curved parking ramps of the Fort Worth Twin.
And, finally, on Riverside Drive just north of the Fort Worth Twin was the Meadowbrook drive-in theater. Its screen stood alongside the original channel of Sycamore Creek where the creek flowed into the original Trinity River channel before flood-control measures of the 1950s and 1960s.
The Meadowbrook opened in the summer of 1953.
For a while the Meadowbrook had a stage for live entertainment, including “Ft. Worth’s own Pat Boone.”
After the Meadowbrook closed, its sign on Riverside Drive was eventually obscured by trees. Why the bicycle on a pole? The drive-in property was later a bicycle park.
The property was later a holding area for Waste Management Company.
Where once cars of young couples parked in row later were rows of parked mobile garbage bins, as if waiting for the first feature to start. (“We wanna see a trashy movie!” “Yeah! Show us Dumpster Does Dallas!”)
The closing credits eventually will roll for what remains of the Meadowbrook. The property is destined to become part of the expanded Gateway Park. The property had been cleared of the dozens of mobile garbage bins, and a crane looms nearby. After sixty-six years the screen, obscured from view on three sides by trees, has become a temporary home for people experiencing homelessness and their dogs. In the bottom photo, the big blue and yellow “Meadowbrook” sign on Riverside Drive, also obscured by trees, also had become a temporary shelter.
This page of movie listings from 1953 is a snapshot of movie stars and theaters of sixty-six years ago.
Fast-forward to 1975. These were the drive-in theaters still in business.
Drive-in movie theater concession stand commercial: