AMOCO Forever

Everything is bigger in Texas except of course St Louis’ enormous cartoon-sized Amoco sign that projects upward on the corner of Skinker and Clayton right at the city’s limits. Our dear sign is a symbol of America’s seemingly limitless growth but also a quirky local landmark. 

The 1920s were a time of rapid growth with land being divided and businesses opening their doors. Neighboring Richmond Heights had a population of 2,135 in 1920 and grew to a population of 10,000 by 1932. The automated production of vehicles meant that while there were only 8,000 vehicles in the US in 1900 by 1920 there were 7.5 million. The little triangle of land where The Amoco Sign towers above its disproportionate service station was bought by The Standard Oil Company in 1921. Their original sign was circular and built five years before the service station was even put up. It was one of the three largest signs in the US and brought in the highest amount of sales of any Standard Oil in the mid-west. It was an exciting time, perhaps Charles Lindberg fueled up at that Standard Oil in 1927 before heading to nearby Art Hill to speak to the hundred thousand that came to see him. 

In 1959 the the station and sign were rebuilt in the mid-century modern style we know today. In 1961 the sign switched from the company name Standard to American, the name of the then-new conglomerate American Oil. Later in the 1980s, the byname Amoco became the official name for American Oil and the sign was updated again.

The STL location was able to keep its sign even when British Petroleum bought out the Amoco Station. BP agreed to keep the sign as they say they appreciate the heritage it holds for the area. Now BP and Amoco are the same company and BP is building new Amoco stations nationwide capitalizing on the familiarity of the brand. The brand of Amoco is an American story so much so that it’s even portrayed in fine art. Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat created their piece titled “Amoco” in 1984. Our Amoco sign unbelievably has its very own web address at https://bigamocosign.com. You can still get your car serviced and washed at the station in the garage managed by Stevenson’s Hi-Point Amoco. 

Whether it’s a part of your neighborhood or you just pass it by every time you head home from downtown, if you live in St. Louis you know what it is. It has been redone over and over again, it has been news throughout its history, and although we might look at it and wonder, …but why?,  it has been with us always and will always serve as a very, very, large physical marker of home. Hilarious STL comedian, Kathleen Madigan, says in her vlog if you ever want to see it you can just tuttle on down here in St. Louis and it’s a lovely little gas station inside.

Red Crown Standard Oil, Photo Courtesy of Joe Sonderman

"Amoco" by Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat, Photo Courtesy of Artnet

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