In 1954, one of the best hang-outs in Ocean City opened. It was the perfect place for a first-date, a night out on the town, some fun with the kids, or a scary and suspenseful movie… It was the Shore Drive-In.
The Shore Drive-In was built during the peak of drive-in popularity in the United States. In 1954 there were nearly 4,000 drive-ins covering the US from coast to coast. Here on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, Ocean City’s Shore Drive-In was a popular place in West OC.
The Shore-Drive in closed in 1976 but the remnants of the large 500-parking-spot theater still remain. If you’ve driven down Route 50 you’ve probably seen the dilapidated drive-in sign peaking through the overgrown bush on the eastbound side of the highway. The drive-in was located 3 miles west of Ocean City. The sign that is visible today used to be bright, flashy, and more than noticeable in its prime.
Today there are less than 500 drive-ins operating in the US. Many drive-ins yielded operation and closed in the 1970’s and 1980’s when today’s more traditional movie theaters advanced. The same happened to Ocean City’s Shore Drive-In.
The drive-in sits abandoned, overgrown, marshy, and untouched today. Buried deep in the woods the projection screen still stands. The original concessions stand and ticket booth are barely erected. All major structures still stand, but probably not for much longer due to exposure to the elements for such a long time. After being vacant for more than 30 years, the only true remnants belonging to the Shore Drive-In are the memories of those who parked their cars in the lot and enjoyed many movies at the hot spot.
The land that once was home to the theater is currently for sale. The many acres have been listed for sale for several years. A tiny for sale sign hides under the rusted marquee hovering heavily over top.
Earlier this week, I ventured back the lane that once welcomed the public to the theater. With a love for anything nostalgic and vintage, I’ve been wanting to see this iconic spot of Ocean City history for years. Here’s what I found:
After venturing through the woods for a while following paths filled with saplings and thorn bushes, I finally saw the towering projection screen that used to be covered with classic films. The screen was falling apart and rotted, but I thought it was beautiful.
While traipsing around the site, seeing leftovers from decades past was one of the best things I have done in a while. I kept picturing lines of ’57 Chevys, pink Cadillac El Dorados, and ’59 Edsels filling the stone covered lot now covered in inches of pine needles and moss. The audio ports were still stationed every 10 feet. I imagined pulling in and claiming a space next to your best friends ride, turning up the volume on the bright lime green audio station, grabbing some buttery popcorn from the concession stand, and watching movies like “Scared Stiff”, “Planet of the Apes”, or “Valley of the Dolls”.
I wish the Shore Drive-In were still in action and an option for a Friday night movie. I hope that you enjoy these pictures and thought about this historic site in Ocean City as much as I do. Do you have any thoughts or memories about the old Ocean City Shore Drive-In?