Get your fill of funky architecture.
Like the dentist’s office and the DMV, gas stations are one of those places people go because they have to—and as a new book from Gestalten publishing shows, they don’t have to be dull and featureless. It’s a Gas! brings some of the world's quirkiest gas stations to your book shelf or coffee table. Past and present designs are highlighted, including post-war European gas stations from the '50s, American gas stations from the ‘60s, and roadside novelties. The book takes readers through the history of the gas station, from its inception in Wiesloch, Germany, in 1888, to its more modern iterations. Here are a few of our favorite service stations featured in It's a Gas!.
1. BOMBER GAS STATION
This former gas station in Milwaukie, Oregon, was topped with an actual B-17 bomber used in World War II. The unusual canopy remained in place from 1947 to 1991, at which time the gas station closed and the plane—named Lacey Lady—was adopted by the Bomber Restaurant located on the same site. It was dismantled in 2014 and moved to a hangar in Aurora, Oregon, to be restored.
2. FRANK SENECA SERVICE STATION
Architecture by Alexander Eschweiler, photography by Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, John Margolies, from It’s a Gas!, Copyright Gestalten 2018
If you happen to be driving through West Allis, Wisconsin, you might be surprised to see an Asian-inspired roof in a bright red-orange hue. This unusual gas station is the work of architect Alexander Eschweiler, who was tasked with designing “something striking” for Wadhams Oil & Grease Company in 1916. It was ultimately built in 1927 and restored in 2000.
3. REDWOOD TREE SERVICE STATION
This structure in Ukiah, California, is hailed as the “world’s largest redwood tree service station,” but they probably don't have much competition. The attached building, which now serves as a museum, is made from the stump of a 1500-year-old redwood tree.
4. WIGWAM VILLAGE
Lawrence, Kansas, was once home to a “Wigwam Village” replete with a teepee-style restaurant, cabins, and this gas station. According to Roadside America, all of the structures were demolished except for one, which was converted into a restaurant called Tee Pee Junction.
5. TEAPOT DOME STATION
It may not look controversial, but this teapot-shaped gas station is a symbol of a major 1920s political scandal. The 15-foot building was constructed in 1922 in Yakima County, Washington, to serve as a reminder of the Teapot Dome Scandal of the early 1920s, which surrounded the fraudulent leasing of Wyoming’s Teapot Dome oil reserves by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior. In 2012, the kettle was moved to another location in the city of Zillah, where it now serves as a visitors center and tourist destination.
6. HAT 'N' BOOTS
Dubbed Hat ’n’ Boots, this site hasn’t operated as a gas station since 1988, but you can still see these country-themed landmarks just south of Seattle. They were built in 1954 as part of the Premium Tex gas station, which had a small store beneath the red cowboy hat and a set of bathrooms inside the boots.
7. LEGARDA SERVICE STATION
Here’s something a little more modern: The jagged wooden roof of this gas station in Legarda, Spain, has been outfitted with solar panels. Its the result of a request from renewable fuel supplier Acciona’s for a unique structure that would represent the company’s values. The station was the first one in Spain to sell bio-diesel and bio-ethanol.
8. MATÚŠKOVO GAS STATION
You’ll find this unusual, UFO-esque gas station in the Slovakian town of Matuškovo, just east of Bratislava. With three concrete pillars supporting three concrete discs, the design is fairly simple and was “no more expensive to build than conventional versions,” the book notes.
9. POPS GAS STATION
Regardless of whether you call it pop or soda, the quirky Pops Gas Station just outside of Oklahoma City is worth seeing if you’re in the area. After taking some Instagram-worthy photos of the giant soda bottle out front, head inside the store to peruse the extensive selection of soda on offer. There are nearly 500 kinds altogether!
It's a Gas! can be purchased on Amazon for $49.57.