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Vintage Gas: Grand Opening of Salt Lake City Firestone Service Store

Updated-During the late-1920s and the 1930s, the Firestone, Goodyear and BF Goodrich tire companies in an effort to cash in on the automobile service market opened service centers that not only sold tires but also offered car and truck service. The grand opening celebration of this new and modern Firestone Service Store located in the greater Salt Lake City, Utah area was held on Friday and Saturday, August 24th and 25th, 1934.

A couple of things of note in the image are the fuel pumps and the car on display on the far-left of the photo. The gas pumps are deluxe “merchandising” units with the bottom section enclosed in glass for the display automotive parts and sundries. Reader Robert Rampton has identified the automobile inside of the gathering of men on the left as AB Jenkins’ 1932 Pierce-Arrow roadster he used for his first 24-hour record attempt on the Bonneville Salt Flats. Jenkins lived in Salt Lake City and Firestone was one of his sponsors so it appears he brought the Pierce out to help promote the Grand Opening.

View over two-hundred other vintage service stations in our earlier coverage. Share with us what you find of interest in this photograph by Clifton L. Bray courtesy of the J. Willard Marriott Digital Library.

16 responses to “Vintage Gas: Grand Opening of Salt Lake City Firestone Service Store

  1. The Ab Jenkins guess is a pretty good one. Period photos show his Mormon Meteor and his “Studebaker Special” on Firestones, so they may have been a sponsor.

    One of my old car highlights was attending a special show at the Indy track in early May 2011, one of the events during the track’s centennial year. I had my car on display with the Stutz Club and I needed something from my trailer parked with the others in a big lot just outside turn 3. A track employer took me in a golf cart and on the narrow undies golf cart path we came across the mighty Meteor being driven to its display area. Seeing ( and hearing) it , at close range was something I’ll never forget… as was the shock of meeting it on a golf cart path.

  2. I’ve got to photo & post an image of our local Firestone store on 20th & Harney here in downtown Omaha. Art deco touches everywhere, and considered a local landmark. Still in business to this day! It opened in the summer of `36.

  3. There happens to be one of these buildings still standing in Lakewood, Oh. Still a Firestone minus the fuel pumps. Right on the corner of Madison and Bunts

  4. Can you imagine what all that advertising, gas pumps and related items at that service station would be worth to petroliana collectors today? It probably all got demolished and hauled off decades ago. Great images.

    • Hi Seth, I looked up what some of the 1934 promotions might have been, and one of the things that came up was this brown glass ash tray inside a Firestone tire. My grandparents were all smokers, and my grandparents had one of those ashtrays. I think they came in black or red tire. Apparently, the “Century of Progress” slogan was used at the 1934 Chicago Worlds Fair.

  5. David –
    Here is what I could dig up about this Utah photo. Prior to the grand opening, Firestone officials touted this new Service Store, located on the corner of 2nd East and Broadway in downtown Salt Lake City, as the latest and most modern of all the 500 Firestone stores built in the U.S., and the ninth to be opened in the intermountain area. It would employ 20 workers with an estimated annual payroll of $30,000.00.
    It would be a full service store, specializing in automobile and truck tires of all types and sizes. I would sport 10 gas pumps, lubrication equipment, electro-dynamic brake testing and correction, retreading equipment, battery and electrical department, a carwash bay, and a complete accessory and radio department. 24-hour service as a given.
    The grand opening, which lasted 2 days, featured many service specials, contests and freebees. Among the free souvenirs were a handy pocket key container for men and a useful bridge score card for the ladies. Of course, balloons for the kids.
    Spark plugs went for 33 cents a piece, oil for 15 cents a quart, and a full lube job, for all cars, for just 95 cents. Firestone’s new for 1934 Century Progress car tires could be purchased for as little as $5.75 a tire.
    The big contest 1st prize was the give away of a brand new Zenith Auto Radio, with free installation. Of course Firestone employees were barred from entering.
    The highlight of the festivities was an appearance of Salt Lake’s favorite son, Ab Jenkins. Firestone was one of Ab’s biggest sponsors. The week prior to the grand opening, Jenkins was out on the Bonneville salt, with a crowd of Firestone executives, chewing through all existing speed records up to 3000 miles, at an average speed of 127.2 mph, with his latest car, the 12 cylinder, Pierce Arrow, Ab Jenkins Special.
    This is the car that can just be seen in the left of the photo. Not unusual for it to have bumpers, or a license plate (which it has) as Ab often drove around the streets of Salt Lake in his early speed cars.
    Quite the place.

  6. There was a Firestone store of this type located on the corner of East Avenue and Union Street in Rochester, N.Y. It was a full service operation, offering brakes and alignment, tire recapping and gasoline. The store sold Firestone bicycles and appliances, and later TV’s- There was a 3 story warehouse where autos were stored in the winter for the wealthy residents of East Avenue when they went south. How do I know all of this? My father worked and retired from there.
    As a young boy I would spend Saturdays at the “store” helping out.
    One time a woman in a chauffeur driven car ( never paid attention to the make) , came in and my father introduced her to me . She invited me to see her farm and “collections” in nearby Pittsford. As it turned out she was Margaret Woodbury Strong and her “farm” was the Strong mansion and her “collections” were the basis for the Strong museum in Rochester. The basis of her fortune came from her father’s buggy whip business and at the time of her death she was the largest individual owner of Kodak stock.

  7. FIRESTONE is still on 2nd east and Broadway, Salt Lake or at least it was last time in was down that way. Im sure i road my bike around that building many times. I remember going inside and looking at their STUFF they sold. Believed they offered bikes guessing with the FIRESTONE Badge.

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