This is a photo of Arlington and what is now MLK Boulevard near Leimert Park. Look at the northwest corner. You’ll see a Gilmore Gas station, owned by the Gilmore family. Talk about luck and timing! Imagine owning a dairy farm at turn of the century. You’re drilling for water only to discover OIL right when L.A.’s car culture was about to go from zero to 50. A few decades later you've got 3500 independently owned gas stations up and down the west coast.
The Gilmores were natural promoters. They built a raceway, sponsored car races, contests, radio shows, comic books, and even had a traveling circus. With a lion as their mascot, they hired a pilot to fly in an open cockpit plane with a lion cub in the back seat safely equipped with a parachute.
In 1945 the Gilmores sold their enterprise to Mobil Oil. So Gilmore gas is now "Nomore" gas. Alas. But you can still see their classic cream and red pumps at the Farmer’s Market on 3rd and Fairfax, close to where it all began.
Our thanks to the Automobile Club of Southern California Archives for sharing this photo of Arlington and what was then Santa Barbara. Photos of Gilmore Field, the Gilmore Gas Station at Wilshire and La Brea, and the Gilmore Settlers Parade Wagon are courtesy of the L.A. Public Library.
Use the slider below to compare then and now.