Rocky Point Drive-in Theater

A follow up to Preservation Photos #120.

Long Island had many drive-in theaters in the 1960s-1970s. The suburban setting and still vast amount of land available was perfect for drive-ins. The Rocky Point Drive-in opened in 1961 with capacity for 750 cars, a modern snack bar, speakers for the cars and a playground for the kids. The spaces for cars were on an angle, so the front of each car would be raised a bit for better viewing. It closed in 1988 and remained empty into the 1990s. After closing as a drive-in, the Rocky Point property reopened as a golf driving range; however, that didn’t last long. You can see in these photographs that the driving range used the existing sign.

Drive-in opening from the Port Jefferson Record in 1961. Found via New York Drive-ins. Click for source and to see additional advertisements.

As a kid, I always found the Rocky Point marquee fascinating; to me it was something tangible of my mother’s childhood, and helped me to imagine what Long Island was like for her. It is a unique relic for Long Island, one left alone among the intensive development. Beyond that marquee, my mother’s stories and the movie Grease, I didn’t have any connections to drive-in theaters. As we know, drive-ins today are few and far between. I don’t think I ever saw one in operation until I lived in Virginia (and my friends and I had to make a trek to find that one).

The marquee for the Rocky Point Drive-in on Long Island has been slowly deteriorating throughout my entire life. For years I  have wanted to stop and photograph the sign, hoping to capture a bit of roadside Long Island before it was too late. Finally, I found the time to do so.

View of the Rocky Point Drive-in marquee on the westbound side (looking east) of Route 25A.

Looking to the former drive-in property.

The abandoned driving range.

Drive-ins existed on Long Island throughout the 1950s-1970s, with many closing in the late ’70s and ’80s; few lasted into the ’90s.  The Westbury Drive-in was the last operating drive-in on Long Island; it closed in 1998 after a long fight. Aside from the lure of indoor theaters, drive-ins closed mostly due to pressures of real estate prices; once closed and demolished, the land became more profitable shopping malls and hotels.

Over the years, "Rocky Point Driving Range" has fallen off to reveal the "Drive-in" sign beneath it.

Side profile of the marquee.

"Rocky Point" covered "Drive-in".

View looking west.

What will happen in this location? There has been talk of big box stores wanting this land for decades. Fortunately, the citizens of Rocky Point are opposed. A Facebook group  is hoping to garner support to reopen the drive-in. Who knows? Maybe it will become  a park and leave some green space on Route 25A.  I’m glad I finally took those pictures.

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10 thoughts on “Rocky Point Drive-in Theater

  1. Erin says:

    I’m glad you finally took pictures of it! I bet it was very nice in its “hay-day”, such a shame that all of the drive-in’s on Long Island are closed as well. What is the name of the facebook group to reopen the Rocky Point drive-in?

  2. Larry Goldfarb says:

    I remember going there in the late 80’s with my girlfriend to see “Innerspace”, plus an additional feature, whose name escapes me. I recently went back for the first time in over twenty years and noticed that they had widened the road… I think…. did that happen some time between 1990 and 2010????

  3. Peg Alpin says:

    @ Larry … Yes, it was widened after we moved from Rocky Point in 1987 … we lived on Brookhaven Drive right down the block from the drive-in. It’s the street with the statuary on the corner (which I THINK is still there). I’m sure 25A needed widening but I liked it the other way. A park for that property would be great but it would need a LOT of landscaping work.

  4. Tom says:

    Bring back the drive in thearter its a great thing for the community and would aid in keeping the younger generations out of trouble and not having to travel so far to see a movie it will definitely help the local economy

  5. Mags says:

    If I was ever able to I would absolutely bring this back along with the bowling alley. As a lifetime member of this community and now business owner, raising my own family here-
    I have so many visions of what the cafe would be like and the ambiance of the drive in it self. Great memories- priceless.
    On another note, I heard Riverhead raceway is opening a drive in this summer on the grounds!!

  6. Nina says:

    They should reopen it as a drive in! I moved to Cincy 15 years ago and lived out there for 12 years and they had drive ins there and now we moved to PA around Allentown 4 years ago and they have 2 drive ins, about 10 minutes from us. I am so blessed to have my 8 children enjoy the drive in just like I did growing up!!! It’s a great summer tradition for the family!!!

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