An old-school gasworks (back in the days before the widespread use of natural gas) where coal was heated to produce "city gas" or "illuminating gas," which was so poisonously toxic that people inhaled it to commit suicide ("taking the gas pipe"). The tank-like structure, called a gasometer or gas holder, telescoped up and down depending on how much gas was inside, its weight serving to pressurize the system and push gas through the lines.
1937. "Charlotte Street Gas Works, Charleston, South Carolina." 8x10 inch acetate negative by Frances Benjamin Johnston.
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