Home' The River Weekly News : RWN 081619 Contents THE RIVER - AUGUST 16, 2019
Historic Downtown Fort Myers, Then And Now:
Gas Stations Galore
by Gerri Reaves, PhD
For the middle decades of the 20th century, downtown
Fort Myers was chock-a -block with service stations.
Beginning in the 1920s, when automobile travel really
took off, until the 1960s, gas stations proliferated in the
relatively small business district.
This early-1940s view of First Street looking east from the
railroad tracks at Monroe – note the tracks along the bottom
of the photo – illustrates just how easy it once was to fill ‘er up
In fact, you didn’t even have to get out of the car. In that
era, attendants not only filled the tank, but checked the tire
pressure and oil, and even washed the windshield as standard service.
Within just the block pictured here, motorists had a choice of a Sinclair, Texaco,
or Gulf gasoline pump. To add perspective: In 1929, there were eight Sinclair
stations alone in the Fort Myers area.
The filling stations were established in the 1930s, but the Sinclair began as
Dixie filling station and was not as long-lived as the other two.
Notice the Sinclair sign above the car roof and the round “HC” sign advertising
Sinclair’s “High Compression” fuel.
The roofline of the Morgan Hotel on Dean Street is visible above the Sinclair’s
Just east (and nearly center-photo) at Citrus Street the oval Amoco sign is
outlined against the brick wall of the Fort Myers Realty Building at the northwest
corner at Dean.
Direct your gaze to the south side of First and you’ll see the round Gulf sign
marking the station on the corner at Monroe. A bit of the station’s service portico
is visible to the right of the Oleander Ice Cream sign painted on the west wall of
the Collier Arcade (aka Post Office Arcade).
A Gulf station remained in business there until around 1970 under various
Upper right of the Gulf sign is the vertical Kress sign at Broadway, the corner
where Starbucks is now.
Today, there’s no gas station within the main business district, and that fact
reflects changing trends in zoning and city planning based on a New-Urbanist
However, the Fort Myers Realty Building, Morgan Hotel (now the Dean
Executive Suites) and Kress Building still exist.
The City of Palms Parking Garage stands on part of the former Sinclair station,
and the Strayhorn Building approximately occupies the former Amoco station
The First Street wing of the arcade was demolished when the U.S . Courthouse
& Federal Building was built on the Gulf station corner.
Several of downtown’s historic gas stations do still exist and are creatively
Go on a downtown treasure hunt and look for those classic stations. Then visit
the following research centers to learn more about the gas stations that powered
the 20th century car craze.
The Southwest Florida Historical Society is an all-volunteer, non-profit
organization open Wednesday and Saturday between 9 a.m. and noon and
Wednesday 4 to 7 p.m.
It is located at 10091 McGregor Boulevard on the campus of the Lee County
Alliance for the Arts. Call 939-4044 for more information.
The Lee County Black History Societ y is located at 1936 Henderson Avenue,
adjacent to the Williams Academy Museum at Roberto Clemente Park.
Hours for the non-profit organization are Wednesday through Friday from 11
a.m . to 4 p.m. and on Saturday by appointment only. For more information, call
332-8778 or visit w ww.leecountyblackhistorysociet y.org.
Visit the IMAG History & Science Center at 2000 Cranford Avenue or at www.
Sources: Archives of the Southwest Florida Historical Society and The News-
Gas stations, railroad tracks and Citrus Street have vanished, and downtown has a new look
photo by Gerri Reaves
In the early 1940s, motorists could choose from three filling stations on this First Street block,
from left, Sinclair, Amoco and Gulf. The eastward view is from the railroad tracks on Monroe
photo courtesy Bob Clark
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Marion Hauser, MS, RD
Ross Hauser, MD
Craig R. Hersch
Capt. Matt Mitchell
J. Brendan Ryan, CLU,
Ann Ziehl, Manager
Gerri Reaves, PhD
Independently Owned And Operated
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