Studio Nibble : Albuquerque Drive-Ins

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Circle Autoscope Drive-In Theatre

Location:  2901 Carlisle NE, two blocks N of Menaul on W side
Open:  1963-1965(?)
Capacity:  260(?)

Wouldn't it be great if going to the drive-in was just like parking your car in front of a big fat television?

Well, the concept may have convinced a few investors, but it didn't convince the crowds, because the Circle Autoscope Drive-In lasted only two or three years before going out of business. The ill-fated concept was interesting from a technical point of view, at least -- instead of projecting the movie onto one big screen, it was projected onto a circle of small ones through a system of lenses and mirrors. Each car had its own individual screen and sound system, making the Circle experience not unlike watching television in the middle of an open field.

The Circle lived out its short lifespan on a lot immediately to the north of the Duke City Drive-In, but unlike the Duke City, small traces of the Circle still remain -- in the form of a number of short red, white, and blue poles that separate the lots from its frontages on Carlisle and Claremont. (Well, we assume the poles are from the Circle, but they feel pretty drive-in, so we think it's a secure assumption.) There are entrance/exit ramps on both streets; we suspect the main entrance was on Carlisle, on the far northeast corner of the property, where the lot juts into a trailer park. There are a couple of sign mounts on the ground here that look like they may have held the marquee.

Not surprisingly, there has been at least one other business on the property since the Circle closed in the mid-1960s; a gardening supply company (for which a metal sign still stands on the Carlisle frontage) may be the one pictured in the Terraserver shot. It would certainly explain the shards of translucent fiberglass greenhouse-roofing material that litter the now-vacant lot. It might also give some clue as to why the weeds on the lot grow in straight lines...

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Copyright 1998, Ernie Longmire (Lazlo Nibble). All rights reserved.