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Starlite Drive-In

Carlos Vargas


Behind the Shot

The Starlite Drive-In in El Monte, California, opened on June 15, 1950, drawing as many as 860 cars to the fan-shaped lot for scarcely more than a buck a load. By day, it became the popular Starlite Swap Meet. The screen was demolished in 1997, but the Art Deco-style roadside marquee still stands. The historic pink sign that once greeted generations of night-sky moviegoers and daytime swap meet shoppers will be incorporated as the front gate for a proposed development of 169 single-family homes and 38 multifamily dwellings.

This photo of the vibrant pink sign was taken by Carlos Vargas in 2021.