Understandably, the preservation of historic automotive culture tends to gravitate towards restoring and maintaining vintage cars. Historically significant cars can be sold at auction for millions of dollars — but important buildings are only valued for their purpose and must compete against the land’s value. The number of Manhattan’s gas stations has dwindled as real estate values soared over the past decade. The factories of Detroit’s defunct automakers were abandoned and left for ruin. However, Philadelphia has preserved its oldest disused gas station by moving it.

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Chubb, an insurance company, announced a plan for a new office tower in Philadelphia at 2000 Arch Street near Logan Square last December. The lot is currently occupied by a surface-level parking lot. Right by the lot’s entrance on 20th Street is a small abandoned building. The building is a 93-year-old Gulf gas station.

According to OCF Realty, the Gulf station was built in 1930. It is not clear precisely when the station was abandoned, but it was slated for demolition in 1988. The Philadelphia Historical Commission approved the demolition after Gulf, the Smithsonian Institute and the Henry Ford Museum all refused to receive the station in a relocation.

Historic Philadelphia gas station takes trip through city, moves to new home in park

Despite the approval, the Gulf gas station was never demolished. Parkway Corporation, the project’s real estate developer, decided to spend $1 million to relocate the station before the office’s construction. WPVI reported that it took a week to get the station onto the trailer. Then, it took two and a half hours last night for the trailer to be carefully moved by remote control from 20th and Arch Street to Fairmount Park.

Robert Zuritsky, Parkway President and CEO, said to Action News, “You need to stabilize, unplug it from the ground, from its foundations, then stabilize it so it doesn’t crumble along the way. We believe we did that. This took months of planning and approvals, permits, and blessings by all parties for it to happen.”

Historic Philadelphia gas station moves to new home in Fairmount Park

The Gulf gas station remains on the trailer in Fairmount Park. The park has yet to decide on a final location and prepare a foundation for the historic station. When the relocation is complete, the brick structure will use by the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia.



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