In 1960, St. Louis Park’s Excelsior Boulevard looked more like Gasoline Alley.

St. Louis Park was once a mecca for gas stations.

I really love pictures of gas stations, and you can’t beat this one—a 1959 Caddy with tailfins so pointy they’d surely poke your eyes out. The location is easy: Jiffy Car Wash is still at Excelsior Boulevard and Kipling.

This picture is from 1960, when cars only got something like seven miles per gallon, anyone with a wrench could fix them and the idea of putting computers in them was straight out of Buck Rogers. This was the heyday of “Gasoline Alley”; there were more than 40 stations on Excelsior Boulevard at one time or another. Now the number is down to five; and three of these are in locations where stations have been since the 1920s.

Could the owners of this station have lived upstairs? Maybe they wanted to provide ’round-the-clock service to folks stumbling out of the adjacent bars. Such an arrangement wasn’t unprecedented: Lydia Rogers, town notary and issuer of drivers’ licenses, lived in her office down the street and would get out of bed for emergencies, hair in curlers, a cigarette dangling.

There are many stories from those halcyon days. Soon the street would look nothing like it did back in the days of cars and bars, and that’s probably not a bad thing.


Jeanne Andersen is secretary of the board of the St. Louis Park Historical Society.