Profile America: First Drive-in Gas Station

Sunday, December 1. On this date in 1913, what is today the Gulf Oil Company opened the nation’s first drive-in gas station.

Located at the intersection of Baum Boulevard and St. Clair Street in Pittsburgh, the filling station was a simple but pleasing structure, with a cantilevered pagoda-style roof to shelter the pumps, cars and station attendants.

Before this innovation, gasoline was dispensed from sometimes awkwardly located pumps at such places as grocery and hardware stores, and even some pharmacies. In the ensuing 106 years, some of this earlier practice has come full circle.

Nationwide, there are around 111,000 gas stations today. The vast majority — nearly 97,000 — are combined with convenience or food mart stores.

Profile America is in its 23rd year as a public service of the U.S. Census Bureau. You can find more facts about America from the U.S. Census Bureau online.