Geneva 4 Drive-In

575 Carter Street,
Daly City, CA 94014

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Century Theatres, Syufy Enterprises

Architects: Bernard G. Nobler

Previous Names: Geneva Drive-In

Nearby Theaters

Geneva 4 Drive-In

Opened with a single screen on June 15, 1950 on the site of an abandoned midget car racing track. The opening movie was Vaughn Monroe in “Singing Guns”. The Geneva Drive-In was one of the most celebrated drive-ins in the San Francisco Bay area and had a car capacity for 771. Writer Hunter S. Thompson was a frequent visitor to the Geneva Drive-In, and wrote of his experiences there.

Located in South San Francisco’s Excelsior district, the Geneva Drive-In underwent many changes in its 50-year history. In the hopes that car racing would return to the area, the original owner left the vast grandstand in place, adding new screens and multiple features for the area residents.

Adjacent to the Cow Palace arena, the Geneva Drive-In survived many social and economic changes in the local community, and despite its poor surroundings, flourished through the period when most Bay Area drive-ins were closing by the dozens.

The Geneva 4 abruptly closed in 1999. Flea markets were still held at the site for another year, but the Geneva 4 Drive-In was abandoned in 2000.

Oddly enough (possibly due to the economic downturn of the area), Century Theatres chose to allow the Geneva 4 Drive-In to quietly decay for the next two years. Then, in March of 2002, the Geneva 4 Drive-In was unceremoniously demolished.

The site still remains vacant. The ramps and many speaker poles still remain, as does a small marquee at the Carter Street entrance, which is now fenced off to deter trespassers.

Contributed by Jason

Recent comments (view all 16 comments)

Scott Neff
Scott Neff on January 15, 2013 at 1:37 pm

I’m sure they had to have been off limits. That part of town has always been rowdy so I imagine during drive-in business the rowdiness just got worse.

stevenj on January 16, 2013 at 8:51 am

The location mentioned above “Located in South San Francisco’s Excelsior district” should read “Located in Daly City” as this drive in is just across the SF city/county line. The Excelsior district is in San Francisco about 1 mile northwest of this location and South San Francisco is about 5 miles south of here. The closest neighborhoods are Sunnydale, across Geneva Ave from the Cow Palace (SF) and Bayshore (Daly City), just southeast of the Cow Palace.

Jemimah63 on June 6, 2013 at 2:27 pm

Midget cars? I always heard it was a dog track…Maybe both?

And to nearby neighborhoods, add Visitacion Valley..

DonMcD on October 15, 2013 at 9:49 am

I was the assistant manager there in 1970-71…the grandstands were a wreck even then, totally unsafe…it should be noted that Syufy Enterprises(owners of the theatre)did NOT own the land there, any more than they owned the land under any of their drive-ins.

Can’t swear to this, but we were told that there was a clause in the land lease that gave the owner the right to take back the land at any time if dog racing were to become legal again…

Regarding the safety of the place, it wasn’t the greatest area, but in the two years I was there no employee was ever mugged, let alone injured…nor (so far as we knew) were any customers…however I’m told it kept going downhill…

rivest266 on August 6, 2018 at 9:30 am

June 15th, 1950 grand opening ad in the photo section.

P on August 24, 2018 at 12:56 am

The marquee is gone

davidcoppock on October 19, 2018 at 5:47 am

Also opened with Bugs Bunny Cartoon World and news.

MichaelKilgore on May 5, 2019 at 6:21 pm

Peterson Brothers sold the Geneva to Ray Syufy for a reported $230,000 per a note in the April 8, 1955 Motion Picture Daily.

MichaelKilgore on June 7, 2019 at 7:07 am

To answer Marklar’s question, yes. Also addressing Jemimah63’s question, the June 24, 1950 issue of BoxOffice reported, “The new Geneva Drive-In, located on the site of the old Baden dog track, is utilizing the old grandstand as seating space for walk-in patrons.”

jwmovies on October 27, 2022 at 10:17 pm

The actual address was 575 Carter St, Daly City, CA 94014. In fact this was never on Geneva only the marquee. A satellite parking lot for the Cow Palace separated this drive-in from the avenue. Please update.

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