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Minute Service No. 6: 1925

Minute Service No. 6: 1925

1925. "Texas Co., Third Street & Florida Avenue N.E." One in a series of photos, evidently commissioned by Texaco, of service stations in and around Washington, D.C. Here we have the added attraction of a speeding train. View full size.


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Ghost Owner, Octane, and Prices

Just to the left of the car filling up on the far right of the can make out a wisp of a motorist! And are those prices on top of those pumps? If so, I paid about that amount in the early 1970's! Could be octane ratings I guess.

Magnetite lamp

The street lamp in this photo is not an arc lamp or an incandescent lamp but a GE magnetite lamp. These lamps operated by creating an arc between a solid carbon rod and a rod made of magnetite. They could operate for several months without trimming, maintenance, or replacing the rods and were the next evolution of mechanical arc lamps beyond the carbon arc lamp.

These lamps were used only on outdoor installations as they produced toxic gasses in their operation. Magnetite lamps were introduced around 1905-08. Because of their proven reliability, some stayed in service as late as the 1940s or early 1950s Most conventional carbon arc lamps were removed from service around 1910.

Photo below shows a magnetite lamp in the Folsom Powerhouse Museum in Folsom, California.

Minute Service

Washington Post, Sep 28, 1924

Gasoline Station Will Cover Square on Florida Avenue

Several sales of large properties were announced by Allan E. Walker & Co., Inc., yesterday. …

The American Accessories Company purchased the entire square on Florida avenue between Third and Fourth streets, extending though to N streets, and will erect thereon a gasoline filling station and accessory store, adding another link to the group of Minute Service stations. The property was purchased from Warren Brenizer in connection with the office of Joseph I. Weller.

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What are the 3 items standing to the left of the building? They appear to have valves/switches on the body and then some kind of hose devices attached to the top of each. They remind me of air or lube lines but where they are makes no sense for those uses. They each have signs/instructions on them too.

Next point - any one know why so many pumps in this and the following photo? Eight pumps for this station seems like a lot given how many (few) cars might have been needing gas at a given time. Perhaps the gravity feed gas in these pumps made a fill up a long task?

[In 1925, the motor vehicle population of the U.S. was 20 million cars and trucks -- 10 times what it was in 1915, when there were relatively few gas stations, and hardly any with multiple pumps. So with a 1,000-percent car-population increase in just a few years, demand for fueling capacity was great. A pump back then dispensed only one grade of gasoline to one car at a time. The average four-island station today has eight pumps with three hoses on each side for a total of 48 hoses able to serve any of three grades of gasoline to 16 cars at a time -- the same number of pumps, but double the 1925 station's capacity. So eight pumps in 1925 really wasn't that many for a big-city gas station. The "three items" are air hose towers. - Dave]

Brand confusion

If the photos were indeed commissioned by The Texas Company (Texaco's formal name until sometime in the '30s), why does this station sell Standard/Amoco gasoline? I've seen photos of rural gas stations in the '20s where multiple brands were sold. I'm not sure when national marketers began demanding brand exclusivity. But I don't see a bright red Texaco Star anywhere here.

[Texaco paid National Photo to take these pictures of Washington area gas stations. A few were Texaco stations; the majority were not. - Dave]

Ghost train

To the right of the gas station itself, look under the raised track signals.

[As noted in the caption! - Dave]

It's the Pits

Looks like a couple of outdoor oil-changing pits just to the right of the building.

Gas Prices

I've noticed in Shorpy pics of gas stations that no matter what time they were taken, that adjusted for inflation, the gas always seems to be around $3 a gallon. Makes me wonder.

Out of gas, full of booze

What clearly used to be a gas station now is a liquor store, but the trains still roll by under the same signal bridge (semaphores are now passe, though). Possibly part of the property retains an automotive theme in the form of a small used car lot.

[That sign in the window (advertising denatured methanol for use as antifreeze) certainly was on the mark! - Dave]

Found the spot - If not the building

[How interesting that the concrete border around the planting bed along the sidewalk is the only vestige of the place to survive. Also, note the train going by. - Dave]

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