The Sledgehammer – Version 2.0

July 20, 2007

Classical Gas – Abandoned Route 66 Gas Stations

Filed under: Culture, History, Wanderings — Tags: , , — Brian Lutz @ 1:34 am

Over at today, James Lileks made an interesting little post about old gas stations.  He makes an interesting point:

 …in the old days you could get a comb and a soda, nothing more. Maybe the plague, if you used the restroom. But the modern stations lack pizzazz. With a few exceptions they’re bland utilitarian structures smothered with ads for lotteries and smokes. The fifties and sixties saw the finest gas station architecture – and much of it is still around.

This post also called for the readers to submit their own photos of old gas stations.  Gas stations in general tend not to be built to last, and tend to also be built in cookie-cutter designs that face the wrecking ball swiftly and unlamented when their usefulness has waned.  Oddly enough, it’s that relative fragility that gives us this scene from the 1963 comedy epic It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, which is almost as notable for it’s depiction of a contemporary gas station as it is for the manner in which said station is systematically demolished:

Around here, one of the few surviving 60s gas stations (for the time being, at least) can be found in downtown Bellevue, on Northeast 8th Street.  The station has slanted windows and a triangular canopy over the former location of the pumps, which are the hallmarks of a former Phillips 66 station (although I can’t recall ever seeing a Phillips 66 station in the time I’ve lived here.) This former station has most recently hosted a toy store, but now sits vacant, serving as an impromptu parking lot.  Given the rapid growth in Bellevue, chances are the station will probably be bulldozed as soon as someone decides to put up another hi-rise on the land.  An aerial photo of the station can be found here (you can switch to the birds-eye view for a better look,) which shows the encroaching construction which will probably eventually seal this old station’s fate.  Maybe if I have some time in the next few days I’ll go take some better photos.

Although there aren’t a lot of interesting old gas stations to be found around here, a roadtrip I took through the Southwestern United States back in April took me to one of the longest remaining stretches of the old Route 66 in Arizona, between Seligman and Kingman, a route lined with a number of ghost towns.  After the jump, a few photos of some gas stations I took along the route. (more…)

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