Pittsburgh marks 100-year anniversary of first service station

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PITTSBURGH (AP) – The country’s first specially designed gas station opened 100 years ago in Pittsburgh, selling fuel for 27 cents a gallon.

Gulf Refining Co. opened the Baum Boulevard station on Dec. 1, 1913, but no trace of it remains today. The small building featured a pagoda-style roof, and it was a major improvement over the usual alternative at the time – roadside shacks that sold fuel from barrels. The Pittsburgh station was specifically designed to sell fuel and oil, and it gave out free road maps, according to the National Association of Convenience Stores.

At the time Gulf Oil’s headquarters were in Pittsburgh. Brian Butko, director of publishing at the Sen. John Heinz Regional History Center, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that in 1913 the station opened without much fanfare. The station sold 30 gallons of fuel that first day – less than 1 percent of the average volume at fueling stations today – and it was staffed 24 hours a day.

And while 27 cents per gallon may seem like a bargain, factoring inflation tells a different story. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics that was the equivalent of $6.39 per gallon in today’s dollars.

Gulf Oil is now a subsidiary of Cumberland Farms, a convenience and retail store chain based in Framingham, Mass.

The site is marked with a Pennsylvania state historic plaque, but no events were planned there for the anniversary.

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