Illegitimi non carborundum
FCBO Gold Member
- May 21, 2013
- Reaction score
- Marcellus, NY
This image came to mind...Not much architecture here in this auto-related segment. The automatic car wash. People deep into this debate when/where the FIRST one was -- I am staying out of that.
They didnt start as "automatic " (assembly line style -- chain drags car through, nozzles, spinning brushes, hi speed air dry, etc.) .. they were all manual labor start to finish.
circa. 1920's, location unknown but typical of first car washes taking the shape (drive through a building).
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Alleged first one was in Detroit in 1914, cost $1.50 (that's like $38.00 today). Also alleged the first "automatic" was also in Detroit.
Paul's Auto Wash, 541 Fort Street, Detroit, MI. Built 1947, mid-century moderne, glazed porcelain exterior, neon signage you could spot from outer space. Gone at least 20 years now.
Not sure when the Fort St Location closed and was torn down (its now a parking lot). As a lad, even as a yuppie professional working downtown Detroit in early 1980's. I went there.
Paul's had maybe 10 locations around Detroit .. when the population with cars moved to the suburbs, so did Paul's. There may be a couple left. The downtown location catered to a bustling urban area .. execs, and other people working downtown after the war until downtown emptied out.
All over Detroit, the carcasses of closed, dilapidated, converted-from-something-else carwashes & detail shops are as ubiquitous as phone booths USED to be. Probably the same in other urban areas (Chicago I know for one).
sources: How it All Began - An Automatic Car Wash History and More, Paul's Auto Wash, Paul's World's First Automatic Car Wash 14 x 10 - David CLEMENTS Productions,
circa, 1960 to about 1985
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Another story to tell... LOLI was a company car driver with a duty to keep the sleds clean
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There were a few of those around here. All gone now.Aylmer, Ontario 1925
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