Autopia – California’s Drive-in Culture

Autopia – California's Drive-in Culture

“People don't get downtown to do business, so business moved out to meet them.” - Donald Baker, Los Angeles City Planning Commissioner

The automobile drive-in culture of the 20th century is synonymous with California. As Americans embraced the automobile, they also demanded a new way of life fashioned around convenience. Drive-in culture allowed them to bank, dine and see a movie, all without leaving their car.

This revolutionary new phenomenon first came of age in the Golden State. The new auto-centric life style, with its supermarkets, shopping malls, drive-in restaurants and theaters, parking garages and lots, car washes and roadside advertising, all developed in the 1920s and 1930s in the greater Los Angeles area. It was from this first great suburban epicenter that car culture spread throughout the state and country.

California State Capitol Museum – The Road Ahead Exhibit

This is a website specifically for the “The Road Ahead: The Automobile’s Impact on California” Exhibit. Dates: May 23, 2018 – April 29, 2019 at the California State Capitol Museum.

For Museum-related information such as contacts, hours and location: Visit