T4 : 25 of 26 Gasoline Stations (part 1 of 5)

Ed Ruscha decided to work his project whilst driving the thousands of miles from LA to Oklahoma to see his parents. He also liked the word "gasoline" and the "specific quality of 'twenty-six'" (Richards, p31). The 26 photographs document further iterations of that journey through the gasoline (or Petrol for those of us this side of the Atlantic) stations that were peppered along the route, in some instances in areas devoid of much else. The presence of these stations tell us of the size of America, the fascination with the great American road trip, Route 66 and the culture of the time. Was this the intention with the project though? It certainly confused at the time, and book sellers didn't know how to classify the book. Rust hasn't been the only one to photograph petrol stations, but that can be subject of another posting. What I was meaning to do here is provide the 25 stations I have found during the last couple of weeks of fevered searching.

Bob's Service, Los Angeles. California
This is the one that I've not tracked down yet. Los Angeles is a pretty big place and there aren't many clues in the photograph. Certainly "Bob's Service" doesn't come up with anything, other than links to Ruscha's photograph or things that seem unrelated. The only thing I can assume is that it's somewhere between the Santa Monica seafront and the Texaco on Sunset Strip. However, this isn't an absolute given as some are known to be "out of order", going from LA to Oklahoma.

Texaco, Sunset Strip, California
This Texaco has gone, although the location was found thanks to the presence of the Har-Omar restaurant behind it. Here, the composition is broadly similar to that used by Ruscha, albeit a touch wider.

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Texaco, Sunset Strip, Los Angeles [GSV Dec 2014]



Union, Needles, California
Still looking pretty much as it did, although a bit more "tired" perhaps. Just like the majority of those located, it's no longer a petrol station, the need having passed with the decommissioning of Route 66 as the major transport route - this one is in the shadow of the I-40 Needles Freeway which took the traffic over W. Broadway.

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Union, Needles, California [Oct 2011]



Shell, Daggett, California
This is one that I'm a little less confident about. There aren't many clues to be taken from the original photograph, and to be honest, the size of the cabin seems a little small although as can be seen in the others, a lot can happen in the intervening years. This is the site that Martin Möll uses in his 
Twenty-six Gasoline Stations Revisited though (I found this work through the images included in Todd Stewart's Context site that I've linked to in the titles here).

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Shell, Daggett, California [Jul 2012]



Whitling Bros, near Ludlow, California
This one was problematic. Ludlow has been pretty much levelled when you look at the Google satellite and Street View maps and nothing even comes close. However, this is 
near Ludlow not in Ludlow. The Context site has an image of what it looked like in 2013, so using with the help of Flickr and Google, I've been able to find that station in Newberry Springs but my "problem" is that it's 29 miles from Ludlow. So, is it actually the right one? Evidence would say "yes", my inner voice says "no"; maybe my English idea of "near" is very different to an American idea of the concept.

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Whitlow Bros, Ludlow, California [Jul 2012]



Phillips 66, Flagstaff, Arizona
After the uncertainty of the last one, I thought I'd found Phillips 66 because of the distinctive shape, but on closer looks it's just not the same. The scaffold at the front of the roof is a different shape, but the much bigger problem is the shape of the hills behind.

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Monte Vista Marine

Instead, it would appear that the dart-shaped roof has been removed and we have a different building. This is as deduced by the Road to Ruscha and Martin Möll sites.

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Phillips 66, Flagstaff, Arizona [Sep 2011]



Bibliography
Richards, M (2008) 
Ed Ruscha. London. Tate Publishing
toddstewartphotography.net (accessed throughout March 2015)
martinmoell.com (accessed throughout March 2015)

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