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Lancaster Drive-In: An aspect of American history

October 5, 2020

The Cat’s Cradle: Lancaster Drive-In: An aspect of American history

By Benjamin Ervin | For The Post

T The drive-in movie theater is an American tradition that's existed for 87 years. Popular in the mid-century and slowly phased out over the decades, drive-ins have maintained their legacy through — ironically — film and the few that are still in operation. One of these drive-ins is only forty minutes away in Lancaster.


When looking for something beyond Athens, few experiences are more unique than the Skyview Drive-In. Located on East Main Street of Lancaster, the Skyview is as old as the website would lead you to believe. Built in 1948, the Skyview theater has been in constant operation as a drive-in theater.

The appeal of the drive-in is the near-archaic design. The drive-in has informed and invaded popular American culture. The simplicity of its design — parking a car near a speaker — gives the drive-in an alluring quality.

Given the opportunity, people should experience an aspect of American history or culture that demonstrates the odd and eccentric designs of the American industry. Each drive-in is a time capsule of American culture, and it's a rare opportunity to have one so nearby to attend.


A drive-in movie is not a better experience than a cinema. Watching a film outdoors does not provide the dissonance of a dark, soundless cinema, but what it does is make a film uncanny. The film has a perfect picture quality as it's plastered across a white background at the far end of the cinema.

The screen is clear of blemishes and has a near-perfect picture (aside from aspect ratio changes due to film format). The only thing that blurs the image of the film is the interior of your car window (if you choose to sit in your car).


An aspect of the drive-in that gives it an old school flair is the use of an intermission. Films have moved away from the mid-film break in recent years — which is a detriment to people who sit through a three-hour film after drinking a glass of water. Acting as a small break with music and a countdown, it allows audiences to dash between restrooms and concessions before returning to their car.

The sound of the film comes over mono-speakers stationed outside of the car. The quality of the sound has a tin echo. The sound is like a voice that comes across a can telephone line, which makes the film seem archaic and engaging.

For people who have trouble hearing or distinguishing the "canned" sound can flip on the FM radio to a specific frequency either in your car or on your radio.

The drive-in's appeal pulls people out of their home to watch a film. Since cinemas are not opening to the public for some time, the Skyview Drive-In provides an escape from the quarantine life of 2020.

Benjamin Ervin is a senior studying English literature and writing at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. Want to talk more about it? Let Benjamin know by emailing him


AUTHOR: Benjamin Ervin
EDITOR: Mikayla Rochelle
COPY EDITOR: Bre Offenberger