In 'Cinema Drive' book and exhibition, local-born photographer highlights changing landscape

Lindsey O'Laughlin
York Dispatch
Michael Fickes, a photographer and teacher at the Lehigh Valley Charter High School for the Arts, released his book, "Cinema Drive," in 2017. Fickes, a York County native, will have a gallery show at the Susquehanna Art Museum in Harrisburg, Feb. 15 to March 24.

A lot has changed in eastern York County since photographer Michael Fickes was growing up there.

By the time Fickes was born in 1988, the old Stony Brook Drive-In theater had been shut down, but the vine-covered sign that still stood when he was growing up, and the history behind the place, made an impression on Fickes.

"It was kind of this towering reminder of things past and things changing," Fickes said.

The young photographer said drive-in theaters represent a certain American ideal in his mind, with themes such as teenage love and Americana.

Photographer Michael Fickes, who grew up in eastern York County, published his first book, "Cinema Drive," in 2017. He will present an exhibition of the same name from Feb. 15 to March 24 at the Susquehanna Art Museum in Harrisburg.

The road where the drive-in used to be is now called Cinema Drive. Fickes recently released a book of the same name, and his photographs will be on display Feb. 15 to March 24 at the Susquehanna Art Museum in Harrisburg.

"My idea is to expand the book, to make the book a larger experience, a physical experience you can walk into," he said.

More:York City's former Knights of Columbus building, once home to Cobblestone's, for sale

More:New history center design focuses on York County's connections

Most of the photographs included in "Cinema Drive" were taken in the Lehigh Valley, where Fickes now lives in Bethlehem, and in south Philadelphia at the Italian market. But a handful of the shots are from York County.

The images all share a desire on Fickes' part to capture everyday landscapes that could otherwise be forgotten when businesses shut down and buildings are demolished.

Case in point, Fickes said at least four of the places photographed for the book have already been torn down or repurposed by a new tenant or owner.

"What the book is mostly about is this idea of this overlap of generations and this changing with time," he said.

One of the York County photos is an image of an empty brick building that Fickes said once belonged to the former McCrory's five-and-dime store chain.

This Springettsbury Township building formerly housed offices for the York-based McCrory five-and-dime store chain, photographer Michael Fickes said. The space is now used by a church.

The building, which sits at the eastern edge of Springettsbury Township, is now home to a church.

Other images include a pot of coffee brewing at a Maple Donuts store, the interior of a Bethlehem record store that's no longer open and an abandoned storefront parking lot.

Copies of the book will be for sale at the exhibition, and the book is available through Fickes' website, The cost is $40.

If you go: The "Cinema Drive" exhibition will run Feb. 15 through March 24 at the Susquehanna Art Museum, 1401 N. Third St. in Harrisburg. Fickes will attend the opening on Friday, Feb. 15, from 5 to 8 p.m.

Admission is $8 for adults and $5 for members of the military, seniors and students. Children under 12 get in free.

For more information, visit