The gas station that can’t die

Written by by Marie Agostini , CNN By Tiffany Mackinnon, CNN

It’s a tank, and it’s a dream.

Or so the Lady Liberty facade of the Joy Oil gas station, built in 1933 in New York City’s Lower East Side, seems to suggest. Yet before you can grab a seat inside, you’ll need to peer through the gas pump. Your window might run a tiny bit aground between the tank and the pumps themselves.

This gas station might be the most beloved relic in New York.

The Joy Oil gas station and Piccolino Gallery on Stanton Street, New York Credit: courtesy Joy Oil Gas station

Until the very last moment, the only energy sources at the station are the electricity it generates and the heat it pumps out. To keep this energy-starved oasis in operation, Joy Oil has paid out more than $400,000 in fines to the city.

Why does it need all this heating and electricity? Only a few drivers a year take a dip in the tank, but many more soak up the water in the underground boiler. In fact, the space is so warm, electricians have been telling Joy Oil to turn it off permanently, despite the never-ending attraction to Manhattan’s cool waters.

New Yorker Tom Luczak and some of his neighbors wonder if it’s time to move on.

“I think we should try and let it go to Florida. … A lot of Manhattan rents are out of the money,” he says.

Emma Paolucci and Sonny Hammond have toyed with the idea of looking for a new parking spot.

“It’s part of the neighborhood. I think it’s part of the neighborhood and it can still be here, but there’s a lot of people who are upset about it,” says Paolucci.

The Joy Oil gas station was never meant to be more than a temporary space for the community, with the financial backing of its custodian, Cristina Piccolino. The gallery is closing this autumn.

Post-apocalyptic Coney Island

The Joy Oil gas station is one of New York’s most well-loved relics. Even a year after it closed, the gas station was still a popular destination for tourists visiting Coney Island, a working-class waterfront amusement park that once was the city’s playground.

One standout site inside the Joy Oil Gas Station is the observatory. It looks like the high point of several worlds, but is in fact a car-port that functioned as an observation deck.

Coney Island’s Luna Park is often called the crown jewel of New York City. The once-secret, now-beloved Gas Station was conveniently located at its front entrance, meaning that customers could refuel while enjoying magical rides.

Leave a Comment