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20 Cents a Gallon: 1925

20 Cents a Gallon: 1925

Washington, D.C., 1925. "Texas Company, James Burke Station." View full size. National Photo Company Collection glass negative, Library of Congress.


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Location of Photo - not DC in 1925

This photo is more likely of the site of Geo. D. Horning's business on the VA side of the Chain Bridge where he relocated it from downtown DC after DC essentially outlawed the pawnbroker business.

Expensive Luxury

"Cars were an expensive luxury (expensive necessity for rural doctors)..."

Is this really true though. Googling "Model T Prices" brought up a chart of the price for new Model T Fords by year. In 1925 - the year this picture was taken - the price of a new Model T Runabout was $260, the Touring Car $290 and the high end of the line, the Coupe, was $520. Now my math skills have deteriorated over the years but figuring a 40 hour work week and Zippy's statement that "A car still costs half a year's pay after taxes", that would mean that someone who bought a Model T Runabout in 1925 and spent half a year's pay after taxes earned about 25 cents an hour.


Twenty cents per gallon was expensive then, just as $4 a gallon is expensive now.

A car still costs half a year's pay after taxes - the cost of a tank of fuel is (and was) about 1/200 of the price of the car.

Cars were an expensive luxury (expensive necessity for rural doctors) and it was only a very flat cost of oil over 5 decades that kept oil and gas really cheap until the '70s.

It looks like cars are going to be an expensive luxury in the future.


We will probably see more "neighbor situations" like this in the near office near gas station. How appropriate!

Texaco: Alexandria Hwy

A display ad from 1924 Washington Post for Geo D. Horning Loans lists location as "South End Highway Bridge, Va. opposite speedway on Alexandria Highway."


This place could be Oregon, considering the Bartholdi Cafe uses the "N.W." designation for part of its address on the upper right billboard (however, I'm not familiar with any other states that might do this). I'd never heard of a "shore dinner" before -- could this be a precursor to the "surf & turf" term?

[The photo caption says where this is. - Dave]


At least you could "Look Prosperous!"

Steve Miller
Someplace near the crossroads of America

Don't Forget the Taxes

What was the gasoline tax back then, if there was one? And what is the tax today? Add that to the total.

[You wouldn't need to. The price per gallon includes taxes. - Dave]

20 cents a gallon

All things considered, 20 cents a gallon is expensive when you consider the median income in 1925 was around $1200 a year. I remember buying gas for 25 cents a gallon during the early 1970s.


Inflation is always a factor when looking at these old photos. But even so, we a still paying much more per gallon, as one of the internet inflation calculators gives a price in today's dollars of $2.42.

East of the River?

This looks like it might have been taken in Anacostia. It was probably the most rural part of the District back then. I like the F Street and Pennsylvania Avenue businesses on those billboards, too.

Gas Loans

Substitute today's gasoline prices and an adjacent loan office seems quite appropriate.

Another Great Gas Station

I love these photos you have been showcasing lately with the early service stations. This one offers a lot of eye-candy: the station equipment, the cute little station building, the rural flavor just down the street, and of course those gorgeous billboards. Fantastic!

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