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The 1930s: Getting There



Curbside gas pump

Before drive-in gas stations were common, gas was sold from curbside pumps. Many of these places were still around in the 1930s, and many of them still used visible register pumps.

Curbside gas pumps decorated for Independence Day in Crystal Lake, Illinois. You can see both a visible register pump and a clock-face pump.

roadside advertising
Out in the country, many barns doubled as billboards. It was a great way for farmers to make a little extra money or get their barns painted for free. Many of these roadside ads featured Mail Pouch Tobacco, Bull Durham Tobacco, Meramec Caverns and "See Rock City!"

See Rock City
Burma-Shave Signs
Bull Durham Signs & Barns
Mail Pouch Signs & Barns

Hitting the road after the big snowstorm of 1936

At busy intersections, traffic was usually controlled by three-light signals or semaphore signals. Intersections were simple, so a single light fixture hanging over the middle of the intersection was sufficient. Semaphore signals were perched on poles and had STOP and GO arms that swung out. In smaller towns, traffic at the busiest intersection was often directed by a traffic cop.

Multi-lane highways were located in the largest cities

Gas station design underwent a transformation in the 1930s.
Early in the decade, stations still resembled the houses and
cottages of the 1920s. Many of them added canopies for
all-weather refueling and service bays for auto repairs.
By the end of the decade, the modern oblong box style came
into use. These stations were built of cement block and were
characterized by built-in service bays, canopies, gleaming white
porcelain tile and offices with large plate glass windows.

Clock-face pumps, auto repairs and
motor oil for sale - 1933

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