Gas station towers lined Westwood Boulevard in 1934. (Huntington Library)
The picturesque designs of Los Angeles’ first gas stations
Early motorists used to fill their tanks at curbside pumps, a recipe for traffic that quickly proved untenable. The solution was the drive-in gas station, and they proliferated rapidly across American cities. By 1929, the U.S. Census counted 8,650 filling stations in California, many clustered along the streetscape of Los Angeles, where residents’ love affair with the automobile was in full swing. Competition was fierce. To stand out, many operators resorted to flamboyant architecture, including broad use of Art Deco style, soaring towers, and features that reflected the popular fixations of the time, such as airplanes and Arabian palaces. Here are some favorite photos of Los Angeles’ early gas stations drawn from the state’s library archives. 👇
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