Friday, March 22, 2013

The demolition of the Bell Air Drive In Movie Theatre. Cicero Illinois.March 2007.

I took this photograph one afternoon after work, back in March of 2007.

For many years begining during the early 1950's, many local Baby Boomer residents of west suburban Cicero Illinois, as well as many from the Chicago side of the border, would park their cars and enjoy an outdoor movie on the giant twin screens of the Bell Air Drive In Movie Theatre during the late spring, summer and early autum seasons.

This drive in movie theatre eventually fell on hard times by the late 1970's and early 1980's, as video movie rentals and VCR's began taking over for movie goers who would now rather stay at home instead. Eventually, local street gangs and other urban riff raff elements were rumored to have taken over on the visiting theatre patronage, sometimes causing fights and other disturbances.

The Bell Air Drive In Movie Theatre eventually closed in 1999, and various buildings like the concession stand, entrance gate, marquee and drive in ticket booth, were demolished in stages over the next several years. The giant twin screens which cars would actually drive through like a tunnel, was recently demolished by the time of this visit. Only the wrecking crane, some debris and the tall dirt walls remained.

Some construction work was started on the site by 2009, with much of the land being levalled for a future Super Wall Mart store, which I do not believe has not materialized just yet.

I visited the Bell Air Drive In Movie Theatre which was located at the southeast corner of South Cicero Avenue and west 31st Street a few times with my family duringthe early 1970's. I seem to recall that we seen the Barbara Streisand movie "Whats Up Doc", the Steve Mc Queen movie "Bullet", the Vincent Price horror movie "Doctor Phibes Rises Again", a few childrens Walt Disney movies, and Dustin Hoffman in the Native American movie "Little Big Man."

The drive in movie era has long since ended in the greater Chicagoland area.

Eddie K.

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