A vintage pump in the Vietnamese hills; a Madrid petrol station topped with a giant sombrero; a multi-colored futuristic fuel outlet in Dubai -– whatever its form the humble filling stop, emblem of our modern societies, would appear to be running out of road.
Faced with the drive away from hydrocarbons as governments seek to fight global warming, compounded by fuel shortages due to the Ukraine conflict and consequent soaring prices, there is little doubt that the internal combustion engine’s days will likely soon be numbered.
That may well sound the death knell -– or at least trigger a deep reconfiguration –- for petrol stations, whose history was closely tied to the rise of the automobile at the start of the 20th century.
In Moscow, the oldest filling station in the city center was established in the 1930s. Nine decades later, this sober cream and red building is still there, in the shadow of golden-domed Cathedral of Christ the Saviour.
Some filling outlets have become landmarks in themselves, such as Blackwell’s Corner, in the California desert. A giant billboard with James Dean’s face reminds motorists that it was here the “Rebel Without a Cause” star made his last stop before the accident which killed him 40 kilometers further down the highway.