Filling station. Gas station. Whatever you call it, nearly all of us have used them on an almost weekly basis. They've been a part of the American landscape for over a hundred years now. They're so ubiquitous that most of us probably don't even notice them until we need one, and then only to check the prices. Now, it's true that today most stations are rather bland affairs: a bunch of pumps under a freestanding roof with essentially a small convenience store on the inside, and occasionally a service bay or two.
"Pah," I hear you scoff, "they're just gas stations, what's the big deal?"
Well, they're not that big of a deal, but as I have previously waxed poetic about Sinclair stations, I decided that it was time to indulge myself a bit further. Like any feature of the architectural landscape, while the buildings themselves are largely designed around a particular set of functions -- selling gas, goods, and sometimes servicing -- within those constraints they can vary according to prevailing stylistic trends, local aesthetics, and aspects of corporate self-imaging. Studying stations of past times tells us what people thought about the role of gas stations, the role of the automobile, the structure of the human landscape, and even how we ought to relate to one another generally. Some are simple, some elaborate, but all have something to say about their time and place. Unfortunately, due to their ubiquity and generally lowly function many have not survived to the present day. But I think they're worth noting, appreciating and, in many cases, saving from the wrecking ball.