Saturday, April 16, 2016

Euro Style

European cities tend to solve the urban gas station problem by just setting up a couple of unattended pumps, often by the entrance to parking garages, with a small "loading" zone cars can pull into. That way they don't use much real estate.
The gas station at the corner of Lafayette and East Houston Streets in SoHo is an industrial outpost in a Manhattan neighborhood of luxury lofts and even more luxurious shopping. It has existed on the corner for decades — first as Gaseteria, later as BP, but nearly always selling gas. For cabdrivers, it was a way station in an unruly city, where they could fill up, use the restroom, or kneel for afternoon prayers on one of the communal kilims the owner let them keep stowed beside the convenience mart.

It closed on Thursday, to be replaced by a glass-and-steel luxury office building, turning some four square miles at the southern end of the borough into a gasoline desert. Today, the only reminder that this stretch of SoHo was once a forest of filling stations known as Gasoline Alley is a coffee shop of the same name that sells single-origin coffee beans from Burundi.