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America on the Move
Collection Exhibition Themes
Filling station
Currently on display
From the Smithsonian Collection

Before the automobile, gasoline was sold in hardware stores, often out of a barrel. The way that gasoline was sold changed to accomodate the growing number of car owners. The new market for gas and consumer desire to buy gas more easily soon led to a landscape dotted with gas stations-more than 200,000 by 1935. This 1918 filling station in Lakewood, Ohio allowed consumers to pull off the street and out of the traffic in order to refuel their automobiles. This architectural form-with the buildings away from the street-became standard for gas stations, and was later adopted by other businesses who wanted to cater to car driving consumers by advertising their parking spaces.

Physical Description
Date Made:

Petroleum was made into a number of car related products. It was made into lubricating oil and petroleum asphalt, which was used to pave some of the nation's roads. By far the largest and most important car use was gasoline. A natural product of the distilling process, most gasoline was used as cleaning fluid, if it was used at all, before the car. As Americans took to the auto in greater numbers-far higher than in other countries-the gasoline part of the industry became bigger and bigger business. The industry produced 85 million barrels (with 42 gallons in them) of gasoline in 1918 and nearly 417 million in 1934.

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