Vintage gas station Signs

50 Years of Gas Station Photos Pump Out Premium Americana
December 12, 2016 – 11:38 pm
Original caption from newspaper clipping: "Rebound Crash Fells Gas Pumps - Mrs. Francis Shea, of Mount Prospect, had just left her auto to sign a gas slip at Nick's Gas Station at Busse and Northwest Hwy. in Mount Prospect when this happened. Auto driven by Marlin Wells, 16, of Mount Prospect missed a curve, hit the first car and smashed it against two gas pumps, starting a fire. Blaze was quickly extinguished. Miss Wells suffered facial cuts and left kneecap injury. Her passenger, Susan Draper, 17, of Des Plaines, had facial cuts." Photo for Sun-Times Photograph stamped with "SUNPAPERS PHOTOGRAPH CLARENCE B. GARRETT DATE 7-4-70 FILE NO. 7-76" and "Ocean City Carla Brubaker" written on by hand. Gasoline Shortage 1974. Jackson and Sangamon northeast corner January 29, 1974. The scene at this Shell station at Jackson and Sangamon found motorists by the hundred lined up for blocks awaiting to get gasoline. Handwritten on photo: "Gas Wait. Layfayette avenue near Charles street. Pat Sullivan, frustrated." Stamped with "Gasoline Shortage Baltimore & Maryland 1979." South Portland, ME - James F. Cagney Jr., 24-year-old son of movie actor Jimmie Cagney, cleans off the windshield of a cab at his service station. Cagney Jr. received the blessing of his father when he decided to go into the service station business. Stamped February 19, 1963. A gasoline storage tank broke open a six-inch slab of pavement last weekend at a closed down service station in Eugene, OR. Ground water that has accumulated during heavy rains apparently caused the empty tank to “float” to the surface. AP wire photo from Nov 27, 1973. Tribune Photo by Edward Wagner Jr. from April 26, 1979. Original caption: "Prices are ... Gasoline money surely burns holes in motorists' pockets these days. In fact, it hurts like, well ... The wind-damaged sign in a station at 55th Street and the Dan Rayan Expressway sums up the feeling accurately." Destruction left in the wake of the battle for Fraulautern, Germany. Taken on December 26, 1944. Stamped with the barely legible "Signal corps photo please credit released for publication by bureau of public relations war department." Cars jam a BP station at Eastern avenue and long lines for gas. Drivers began staking out Bonsal street early today as drivers formed some stations well before they even opened. Stamped with "SUNPAPERS PHOTOGRAPH LLOYD PEARSON DATE 6/14/79 FILE NO. 262." Photo stamped with "SUNPAPERS PHOTOGRAPH GEORGE H. COOK DATE 10-200-72 FILE NO. 0-468." Caption from newspaper clipping: "Abandoned gas station at Centre street and the Fallsway." Photo stamped with "SUNPAPERS PHOTOGRAPH FRANK R. GARDINA DATE 8-22-1964 FILE NO. 8-458." Caption from newspaper clipping: "A huge wall, which has been nicknamed the Berlin Wall, has been built by the gas station to separate its property from ours. The construction is part of a county program to make all gas stations build them by 1971. The neighbourhood, however, is violently opposed to this one. Can Direct Line suggest something we can do about it? -Mrs J.V.B." Photo stamped with "SUNPAPERS PHOTOGRAPH JOSEPH A DIPAOLA DATE 8/21/73 FILE NO. 83 - 32." Original newspaper clipping caption: "More signs in a field clearly mark the spot where HRD wants to pump gas."

David Campany first got the idea for his photobook Gasoline after finding a captivating photograph in a second-hand shop. The photograph shows a woman in Hopper-esque light, slumping over her steering wheel as she waits in line for gas in Baltimore in 1979. A handwritten note on the photograph’s reverse side reads: “Gas Wait. Layfayette avenue near Charles street. Pat Sullivan, frustrated.” The woman’s car and strands of her hair were carefully painted over, in the style of the newspaper retouching of the time.

“When I first saw it I thought it might be a reproduction of a painting, ” he told TIME’s Lightbox in an interview. “Perhaps by one of those 1970s photorealists who loved to paint shiny cars. I wanted to build a narrative around the predicament of that woman, but also the predicament of that image, that over-painted press photo thrown onto the rubbish heap of history.”

Gasoline is a forensic look at newspaper photography and retro Americana, drawn from archival press images of gas stations from 1944 through 1995. It’s a display of techniques of the pre-Photoshop era, where parts of the photographs were painted over or embellished, clarifying the images so that they could be transferred successfully to the half-tone dot of the newsprint pages.

Crop marks sometimes show up multiple times on the same print surface, suggesting different uses of the same image. The book’s second half shows the reverse side of the prints that were reserved for captions, credits and other details about the image. The handwriting, the typewriting, the grease pencil marks and paint become design elements in this contemporary re-contextualization of press images into an art photography book.

“The most fun part was figuring out the working relation between photographers, editors and layout artists, ” says Campany. “Some very nice photos get butchered by the press through cropping. At the same time, some rather lame photos get turned into graphically stronger images with a judicious crop. I reproduce the whole photos with all the red, black or white crop markings so that you can see this process in action.”

Campany admits that while gas stations are banal, they are also prime locations for tracking news both local and global.

“The 1970s was an eventful decade for gas, ” he writes in the book. “Oil Shortages. Price increases. Geopolitical instability. Road congestion. Choking cities. Growing consciousness about pollution. Dreams of the tank always full and the freeway always empty were coming to an end.”

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Popular Q&A
What does bp mean at gas station signs?

The BP at the gas station signs stands for "British Petroleum". ! Is there anything else can help you with?

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