Gas Stations Then and Now – What Once Was at Georgia and Upshur St, NW

Photo via Shorpy

Dear PoPville,

I can’t tell you how many times I get gas in Maryland or Virginia, just to void the negative experience of getting gas near to my home. It’s amazing how long it’s been this way, especially at the corner of Georgia & Upshur, where the same dingy Shell Gas station has been dilapidated and broken for many years, It’s often embarrassingly unsafe that a large company would lower their expectations of service and presentation so far.

This gas station and many others around it suffer from a lack of cleanliness, dated/filthy service bays, broken gas/air pumps, environmental protection issues, abandoned cars, shoddy paving work, missing supplies like oil and windshield cleaning fluid, inconsistent pricing, and lackluster service and selection in terms of their convenience stores.

DCRA should hold these stations accountable for cleanliness and compliance. The quality is far away from the quality/convenience of suburban stores that charge less for gasoline. I have included a historical photo (above) of the gas station at Georgia & Upshur as well as one from now (below), that shows how this corner has fallen far from grace, even back when there were only dirt roads in the community.

Georgia, Kansas and Upshur St, NW

41 Comment

  • that site is going to be redeveloped anyway in the next 3 years so at least this eye sore will be gone eventually.

  • I completely agree with the lack of safety and accountability to cleanliness at DC gas stations. The Exxon at 14th and Otis comes to mind. There is NEVER windshield cleaning liquid, and there are no paper towels so that when the gas drips on your hand when completing the task, I have to go inside, wait in line, and ask for a napkin. They generally hand out one. It’s and offensive service station.

  • I don’t have a car so I can’t speak to your concerns but that photo is awesome! You can the streetcar lines in the road. And, is Upshur a dirt road?

  • I also go out of my way to get gas when I’m in Virginia or Maryland. The stations on Conn. Ave in the district are generally nice and clean but expensive. As the poster notes, the ones on other side of Rock Creek Park are usually nasty, ugly, filthy eyesores that often hard to navigate in and out of. The one exception is the taxi cab social hour place at 15th & U, but I’ve witnessed a few too many snatch and grab crimes there (guys walk up looking for open windows and grab what they can) to make me feel safe filling up there.

  • tonyr

    That Standard station looks regularly sized to me, certainly doesn’t look minute.

  • I’m not sure whether the government can (or should) dictate to a private business what products to sell. If it’s so profitable to keep the gas station sparkling clean, provide wiper fluid, free paper towels, buy more expensive paving, etc, then I’m sure they would.

    Perhaps it’s just a gas station- designed for utility and volume of gas customers, not mere convenience, to survive in a high-rent area with low profit margins.

    • DCRA regulates commercial and private property throughout DC, they can dictate safety and environmental standards, and they can cite businesses and owners that violate building and safety code regulations… Apparently they’ve been turning a blind eye to businesses that have been here for a long time.

      • Except that’s not what the OP alleges. OP was concerned about windshield wiper fluid, broken air pumps, and cleanliness.

        • Shell Corporation, would have to intervene in that, they have standards for franchisees to uphold. They can’t operate under the name of Shell if they don’t uphold franchisee standards, even if it’s a privately owned store. It seems like the company has neglected to pay attention to this location.

  • It’s easy to have palatial gas stations, but you can’t have them in high density areas where land runs $.5 million per acre.

  • What about the 7/11? I mean, I always thought it was odd to have two Shell stations two blocks away from each other, but the one that became the sev was always the better of the two. It looks cleaned up now.

    • Agreed, always seemed silly to me.

      The one on the corner of Upshur does have the service bays, but I’ve never once seen a car being worked on there. I also avoid that station like the plague.

      • I always see cars getting worked on there, and yesterday they repaired my tire, which had a nail in it. Very friendly.

        That said, most of the DC stations are owned by Joe Mamo, who has a monopoly and gives thousands of dollars to DC council members (I’m looking at you, Muriel Bowser), who don’t see a need to require him to meet basic standards.

      • I have always had luck with the garage for repairs.

      • I’ve had my car repaired there. The garage guys do good work.

    • yeah, that’s the one to go to. the upshur one, i’ve tried to go there twice for gas. both times the pay at the pump didn’t work. i guess they expect you to go inside to pre-pay. i drove down a block to the other shell.

  • Speaking of nasty gas stations, the BP on 13th and N in Logan Circle was getting some work done this morning. Couldn’t tell if they were repairing, or demolishing, anyone else notice that?

  • I enjoy the quotation marks around “Standard” in the old sign!

  • Anyone know why the Shell at Georgia and Piney Branch closed? Even better, anyone know if it’s going to be anything besides an abandoned gas station anytime soon (I hope)?

  • brookland_rez

    The one on 12th and Otis just became a Shell and in so doing installed new gas pumps, and paper towels/cleaning fluid.

  • I think the Shell Stations in Petworth should at lease meet the minimum requirements that Shell has for how a station should be managed. The one at the corner of Georgia and Shepherd is horrible. Even though it’s been “renovated” the credit card machines at the pumps are almost always broken, so you have to go inside to pay…inside, I’ve always felt unsafe, it seems like a place where all the drug users congregate. I’ve also been double-charged for gas there and it took weeks for them to take the charge off. Last, the place is such an eyesore and violates every principle of urban planning – it’s so bright I’m sure you can see it from outer space and so ugly, no one will ever want to redevelop the buildings/businesses there. It just ruins the 900 block of Shepherd St.

    The gas station at Upshur and Georgia…well, the pumps will take your credit cards so you don’t have to interact with anyone there so you can at least get your gas and get out of there.

    • Yeah, if you’re really concerned about it, maybe drop a dime on ’em and contact Shell Energy directly. Surely they have minimum standards for cleanliness and functionality of the equipment there. The owner might be willing to spruce things up, under threat of losing the franchise.

      • I complained to Shell recently about the Georgia/Upshur station. I use Giant Rewards, and it’s the closest Shell to my house, but I got fed up with the broken computers. (I’ve *never* gotten a receipt from them.)

        The last visit, I complained to the flunkie behind the counter, who said, “Tell the manager yourself.”

        Shell responded and asked if they could forward my contact information to the station owner so he could contact me. (Right…like that ever happened.) So I sent them the link to this post today.

  • I think the highest selling item at this station is Philly Blunts rather than gas or anything else… The 7-11 up the road is totally bad compared to suburban stores as well. I wouldn’t even buy a bottled drink from it, standing in line is always a test of if you’ll say something to the person who cuts in front of you. DC gas stations are an entirely different country of their own.

  • Dont forget that gas stations are all privately owned so a national retailer has very little input on what a station looks like or how it runs. As was pointed out most gas stations in DC are owned by one guy.

    I have never had issues with either the 13th and N or 9th and S ones. They are both ugly by all means, but the only real ‘urban’ gas station I have seen in DC is the one at M and 23rd in the West end with the million dollar apt above it.

  • Don’t assume that everything was so nice in Ye Olde Dayes – I am sure the reality of the old picture was pretty grimy too – what with cars tracking in dirt from the dirt roads, for instance, not to mention leaded gas, no emssion controls, and a complete lack of enviro regulations.

  • I finally had to use this Shell station last week (out of gas). I tried 3 different pumps and the handles were broken on all 3. I gave up and went to the pumps at the 7-11 instead. Looked at my debit card statement and the Shell put a $90 hold on my account for each of the 3 attempts – so I was without $270 for the weekend, until they lifted the “hold” on Monday. Won’t be going back there ever again.

    • All gas pumps do this. They put a hold on your account (sometimes up to $100) in order to verify that you’ll be able to pay for the entire gas purchase. To avoid it, you could pay inside before pumping, although I realize that’s a lot less convenient.

      • I read (“somewhere”) that you should always select the credit option, because it’s the debit option that triggers the hold.

  • Really??? This many people care that a gas station is dirty???? To the point of wanting government involvement? Wow, I’d rather my tax dollars went to something more useful (more police, for example). For that matter, I’d rather save 10 cents a gallon and not pay for a guy to clean up a frick’n gas station too.

  • All of the complaints about DC stations could easily apply to the ones near where I work–Rockville/North Bethesda or where I used to go to find cheap gas in NoVa (virtually anywhere in Arlington).

  • go to Harvard & Sherman, that’s the best.

  • “Lackluster selection in terms of their convenience store? The quality is far away from the quality/convenience of suburban stores that charge less for gasoline ”

    Are you kidding me? This cant be a serious letter. I have never met or heard of anyone who goes to the gas station to marvel at the architectural beauty and/or purchase gourmet meals…get over yourself

  • All of you who buy gas out of state–do you realize how much of your money goes to gas taxes, to help a state you don’t live in? Look, suck it up, wash your hands, and buy gas in the District… and maybe you’ll see some of that tax in public benefits.

  • Best mechanics in there. The owner and all the mechanics of the garage are honest mechanics and they know their trades. We get all our cars done there and they stand behind their work. The garage is owned independently and they work on cars daily. I would venture to say compared to what we used to pay before at other garages, these guys are dirt cheap.

  • Joe Mamo, ladies and gentlemen. He’s your problem.

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