Harbor Drive-In

23314 S. Vermont Avenue,
Los Angeles, CA 90502

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Pacific Theatres

Styles: Streamline Moderne

Nearby Theaters

Harbor Drive-In

Located in Los Angeles, close to Torrance, CA. The Harbor Drive-In was opened on April 20, 1950 with William Powell in “Dancing in the Dark” & Bill Williams in “Blue Grass of Kentucky”. The drive-in was a favorite of family audiences during the 1950’s and 1960’s. My family went there often. It was initially operated by Thrifty Theatres Corp.

Operated by Pacific Theatres, the screen tower had a distinctive design and was painted a bright yellow, and featured that favorite of families at drive-ins, the children’s playground located just beneath the screen, and a busy snack bar. It was closed on May 15, 1972 with George C. Scott in “The Hospital” & Peter Finch in “Sunday Bloody Sunday”.

Contributed by Donald John Long

Recent comments (view all 40 comments)

kencmcintyre on June 24, 2009 at 8:13 pm

The LAT reported the robbery of the Harbor manager, Joseph Green, by a man and woman bandit team on July 20, 1954.

kencmcintyre on September 2, 2009 at 6:48 pm

Here is a February 1960 ad from the LAT:

kencmcintyre on November 21, 2009 at 2:57 pm

This link should show an aerial view of the drive-in, circa 1952. If the link doesn’t work, let me know.

kencmcintyre on February 23, 2010 at 9:14 am

Still looking for any photos of the marquee or screen.

kencmcintyre on April 12, 2011 at 3:19 pm

The Torrance Library recently digitized local papers going back to 1913. I have posted the link below. If you search for Harbor Drive-in, there are many entries about its colorful manager Joe Greene, along with ads, mostly in the 1950s.


kencmcintyre on May 7, 2011 at 6:26 pm

The manager of the drive-in back in the early fifties was Joe Greene, as I mentioned in 2009. He was also an actor. In reading the local archives, there were a couple of occasions when he was an actor in the film that he was showing at the theater.

MichaelKilgore on June 11, 2021 at 11:55 am

Hey kencmcintyre, thanks for the Torrance Library link!

But the Harbor site was apparently never in Torrance, though that is the Zip Code for the post office that would deliver its mail today. First there’s a half-mile wide tendril of Los Angeles sits between the old drive-in and Torrance. According to Google Maps, the Harbor is east of that part of LA and west of Carson, so it sits in a small census-designated place (CDP), appropriately called West Carson.

The Theatre Catalog and Motion Picture Almanac both listed the Harbor under Los Angeles. Topo maps from 1953 & 1959 put the Harbor in unincorporated space, again across the LA tendril from Torrance. The 1966 & 1975 topos show Carson extending north of the drive-in site, which is still untouched. The 1982 maps shows the area in a small blob of territory - part of Ironsides? Is that a neighborhood or another CDP or something?

If I had to choose, I’d list the Harbor under Los Angeles. In the drive-in’s heyday, it was closer to Torrance than Carson, but it was closer still to the Los Angeles tendril.

MichaelKilgore on June 30, 2021 at 3:32 pm

After digging through the LA Times, I think the final ad for the Harbor in the drive-in theater section (between Covina and La Miranda) was Monday, May 15, 1972. The double feature was “The Hospital” and “Bloody Sunday”. In the next day’s ad, there was nothing between Covina and La Miranda.

Jamey_monroe45 on August 6, 2023 at 5:21 am

Way off!

Now Sesame Street (!) Townhomes @ 23314 S Vermont Ave, Torrance, CA 90502. This was LA when the theatre was open…

Please update.

MichaelKilgore on August 6, 2023 at 11:26 am

My dear Jamey_monroe45, I am very happy to see another enthusiastic poster here, but I am troubled that you may not feel the friendly, helpful vibe that some of us try to promote.

In this case, the previous address the CT had for Harbor was 23444 S. Vermont Avenue. That modern-day address is closer to where the old Harbor sign had been, according to comparison tools at HistoricAerials.com. On the other hand, 23314 looks to be closer to the original exit path; I can’t tell where the box office had been. Of course, these addresses are barely one block apart - either address is defensible, either guides the reader to the correct location. I might call it a tweak; I’ve been enough of a stickler to suggest similar minor changes.

About its city location, one of my earlier posts on this page outlined a logical thread to explain why the evidence that I found suggested that it the Harbor was in unincorporated Los Angeles County when it was active. If you’ve found something that suggests that it was was within the city limits back then, that would be a great thing to share. I always enjoy being proven wrong, as so often happens.

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