How did the ‘Magic City’ Drive-In get its name? Barberton, OH became known as the ‘Magic City’ because of its rapid population growth during its formative industrial years. This was a time of waves of immigration from eastern & southern Europe. It 1891, when Barberton was incorporated, the scattered farms that had originally characterized the landscape were transformed into a fledgling city of 1,800. When an Akron Beacon Journal reporter revisited Barberton in 1893, he noted that since 1891, it had grown so quickly that it appeared to have grown by ‘Magic’.
The Magic City Drive-In was opened on June 22, 1950, screening the 1949 western “South of St. Louis” with Joel McCrea, Alexis Smith and Zachary Scott. The second feature was the 1949 comedy “Master Minds” with Leo Gorcey and the Bowery Boys. The new airer was opened by Lou Ratener and Vince Lauter, dba Magic City Drive-In Theatre Inc. and Ohio Theatre Service. The Magic City is well known because of the theatres iconic marquee. It shows a genie coming out of a brass lamp, like Magic!
OTS was a buying and booking service for independent exhibitors started by Ratener & Tony Stern. Lou Ratener in 1950 would also purchase the Montrose Drive-In. Starting in 1965, Co-Operative Theatres of Ohio Inc. would be the buying and booking agency for the drive-in and still continues to this day. On November 27, 1967, the Magic City Drive-In was sold to Sam, Jay and Don Schultz, dba Jaydon Amusements Corp. and Selected Theatre Management Corp. from Cleveland, OH. On June 23, 1978, the Magic City Drive-In reopened as a twin theatre.
In 1980, Jaydon Amusements Corp. leased the drive-in out to Gary Grieve. In the mid-1980’s, Selected Theatres was selling all of their drive-in properties. At this time they were getting out of the theatre business. On January 4, 1985, the Magic City Drive-In was sold to Gary Geive. Gary Greive and Jeff Davis own and operate the Blue Sky Drive-In and the Magic City Drive-In. You can still see movies screened under the stars at these two classic airer in the Akron, OH area.