Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Sheridan and Albion, 1937

OK, here's the last of my images adapted from the IDOT photo archive of Chicago intersections.  This filling station at the Northeast corner of Sheridan and Albion was a particularly solid design, and I'm struck  by how similar it is to modern gas stations.  There are drive-through pumps accessible on either side for motorists who just need a fill-up,  and garage bays for more in-depth servicing.
This is one of those images that benefits from the site plan (courtesy of the Sanborn Fire Insurance Map of 1937).  The sales area and the service bays sort of pinwheel against each other, with the underground gas tanks at the rear.  I imagine the space behind was for storing cars.

If you look in the drawing you can see the outline of the adjacent house to the North, along with two huge billboards angled towards the street.  These were located on the vacant lot between the house and the filling station.  Compared to the 1930s we get off easy when it comes to signage.  Anyone with plot of land could apparently erect an enormous sign if they could find someone willing to pay for it.  Now you can't put up a sign larger than 100 sq.ft. without an order from City Council.  But I'm not a huge fan of billboards, so I'm not complaining.

It makes sense to place filling stations on the corner, where it can have access to two streets.  But why did the station itself have to be located in the center of the lot?  If I could go back in time and make a few suggestions it would be to locate gas stations on the corner of the lot and have the pumps and service areas in the back.  This would be an especially good treatment in dense urban areas, where the service station disrupts the streetscape.  This gas station was on the corner of a residential block and at least tried to retain a little grassy area near the sidewalk. 

So this might be the last gas station for a bit, although I found another good one on Clark and a tiny one on Sheridan.  I'm trying to limit thematic postings to three.  For now.  Until I return to Sheridan Road please enjoy this great pictorial  that makes use of the same IDOT photos I've been admiring.

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