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Essential Journal

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Twin Arrows Trading Post, Arizona

An extract from: It’s a Gas! The Allure of the Gas Station

words by Anna SOUTHGATE
photography by Rick Pisio

Photographing abandoned buildings has become extremely popular around the world in the last decade. Capturing and displaying transience is particularly fascinating when a place tells a story of societal change. 

In the case of gas stations, we now have an entire industry that must keep up with technological innovations such as e-mobility. Abandoned gas stations have a charm all of their own. Perhaps this is because they were built alongside roads (such as the iconic Route 66), putting their gradual decay on display as one drives past. Or perhaps it is because gas stations were once more varied in their aesthetic. The market is dominated by a few large chains today, whereas it was divided between numerous small businesses throughout the twentieth century. This also meant that the architecture was more diverse. Examining abandoned gas stations gives us a glimpse into the past, one where cars meant more than status. They also represented freedom, with gas stations the springboards into the wild blue yonder.

This gas station in Flagstaff, Arizona, gets its name from the two arrows (formerly telephone poles) sticking out of the ground in front of the building. The owner handed this one-time Route 66 attraction over to nature when he left it more than 20 years ago. AS