Remembering the Beltline Drive-In
There was a time when you could find a drive-in in every part of the city from the Plainfield Drive-In on the north side, to the Vista Drive-In on the far west side of Grand Rapids (Standale actually), to the Cascade Red, Green, and Blue Drive-In on the east side. On the south side of the area, on 28th St. in Wyoming, was the Beltline Drive-In.
I don't know what made going to the drive-in so special as a child. Was it laying on top of the family station wagon to watch a movie, was it the concession stand (which "Will Be Closing in 10 Minutes"), or maybe hearing the sound coming out of a 6 inch square mental speaker? Or, perhaps it was the smell of the mosquito coils people were using on the hoods of their cars? It was just a magical time for me.
The Beltline Drive-In got its name because 28th Street (M-11) was often referred to as the "South Beltline" back in the day. It was easy to spot as you drove along 28th Street, the backside of the main screen featured the neon cartoon characters Goofy and Bugs Bunny -- about 3 stories tall!
The Beltline Drive-In opened in 1948. Some of the early pictures I’ve seen in the past show nothing but a field and then the theater! 28th Street may have even been a dirt road back then!
For a time, you may remember the trampoline park they had out front of the drive in. I’m sure liability issues are what closed that down. I wonder how many broken arms or legs resulted from that place. I was always jealous of the kids I would see out enjoying the trampolines. My parents would never let me try it. By the time I was old enough to drive myself to the theatre, the trampolines had been removed.
The Beltline Drive-In closed in 1987. The parking lot was used for a flea market on the weekends, but that too ended a few years ago.
For more great historical pictures of the city of Wyoming, check out the Wyoming Michigan History Room Facebook page.
And let's not forget about those great ads during the intermission at the drive-in...
[NOTE REGARDING FEATURE PHOTO: No known restrictions on publication. For more information, see "John Margolies Roadside America Photograph Archive - Rights and Restrictions Information" https://www.loc.gov/rr/print/res/723_marg.html]