Atlantic Richfield Gas Station
40th Street and Walnut Street (SW corner)

"Perhaps the most elaborate gasoline station ever constructed was built by the Atlantic Richfield Refining Company in Philadelphia in 1918. The central building and the extensive colonnades that surrounded the large driveway were faced in white terra cotta tile. The entire complex was styled after a Classical Greek temple."

photo and text from John A. Jakle and Keith A. Sculle, The Gas Station in America, (Johns Hopkins University Press: Baltimore) 1994, p. 157-158.

The book's text says the station was built in 1918, but the photo caption credits a National Terra Cotta Society publication from 1915.

The station occupied the current Burger King/Sundance site. With the Library, Christian Science Church, and the current DP building this must have been an architecturally impressive corner. The large brick building behind the station was an automobile garage and service center.

The insurance map below shows the site as of July 1921. The top edge of the map is Walnut St.; the right edge is 40th St. This small section of the map shows at least four automobile-related businesses. The whole atlas, which covers the 27th Ward, shows dozens of garages both large and small, a clear indication of the rapid transformation of West Philadelphia from a streetcar suburb to a neighborhood with a large number of private automobiles which needed to be housed somewhere.

Detail, Map 189, Insurance Maps of the City of Philadelphia
Surveyed and Drawn by Ernest Hexamer & Son
Published by Ernest Hexamer & Son
No. 419 Walnut St., Philadelphia
1904 (with updates to 1922)
from the collection of The University City Historical Society