Written by By Cnn Senior Religion Correspondent Shahan Ahmed, CNN
It’s famous for its bold orange logo, elegant shade of orange and size. But despite being the natural color of sunshine, it’s today one of the biggest drains on the Miami gas stations of Miami.
Joy Oil is the site of the former Miami’s City Hall , and one of the newest and largest gas stations in the city. The city took over the property in 2013, with a promise to fill it with beautiful landscaping, lighting and retail space.
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It took the city $400,000 dollars to renovate it into the envisioned space. Now they’ve completed more than half of their landscaping but are still waiting for an In-N-Out Burger and a new gas station.
“We don’t really feel a need for an In-N-Out Burger anymore, we know we have them now.” says Alanna Franklin, executive director of the History Miami Center, which manages the site and has assisted in the timeline and ownership.
She says the environmental improvements that went into turning the former municipal building into a gas station are far superior than the destruction that occurred when the building went up in flames decades ago.
“It looks just as important, if not more important, than when it was used as a city council office,” Franklin said.
In-N-Out may be just one of the few tenants that thought twice about coming to this site, and one that was unable to give the two of us a proper thumbs up.
But the history we discovered was just as diverse.
Mr. Bongo, an African leader of the 1930s and 1940s, resided in Miami at the same time the city government existed.
But after his death in 1947, he was “roughed up” and placed in a gas tank with an air mattress. The evidence of his ordeal is only made more remarkable by the fact that when he was finally left alone, and in the police cell, was abandoned by a group of officers who stormed in, beat him up and filed him off to the wood shed behind the city hall, where he spent the rest of his days — forgotten and not much looked after.
Some of the city’s earliest residents enjoyed rum cocktails among the Florida foliage, sipping on pear nectar, Alsatian brandy and old Bourbon.
It’s the secret life of these barbacks that at last reveal Miami. It’s not the unexpected meeting of names that propel an abandoned gas station deep into the public domain. Instead, it’s the history of the city that brought them together and makes them all worthy of reflection.
“We’re happy the city is in good financial condition, so we don’t have to have special service for people here. These people are used to going to gas stations, you know, and we can give them security and if there is an issue, maybe get them in and out safely.” (h/t Alanna Franklin of History Miami Center)