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
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
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