If you never heard of this piece of local history, get ready to have your mind blown.

Way, way before the days of Wawa the largest gas station in the world was in Pleasantville, New Jersey. The location was Absecon Boulevard.

It was called Paxon's - and, the place had a zoo - billed as the largest in New Jersey.

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Fill `er up while I check out the giraffes

You know how agitated you get at Wawa when the driver of the car in front of you at the pumps leaves the car parked there and goes inside for an Italian shorti and a coffee?

Imagine waiting for someone in line while they went and checked out the animals at the zoo!

"Are you kidding me here?"

Photo by Nikolay Tchaouchev on Unsplash
Photo by Nikolay Tchaouchev on Unsplash

Paxson's was a gas station with a zoo

There's not a lot of online history about the place, but it appears to have first opened in the early 1900s, shortly after the age of automobiles began.

We found this poster or flyer (posted below) being sold online, on the website BetweentheCovers.com.

It refers to Paxson's as "The Largest Gas Station in the World" and "The Largest Zoo in New Jersey."

We haven't been able to find much about the zoo online - for example, what kind of "wild animals" were there and how many animals were on the premises?

Oh, but they did have "fresh gas." I wonder if Wawa sells fresh gas?


Was it really a zoo?

While Paxon's called itself a zoo, we're not quite sure what that term meant in the early 1900s. Did it come close to being what we call a zoo today?

For history sake, even though Paxson's was around in the early 1900s, the Cohanzick Zoo calls itself New Jersey's First Zoo - but it didn't open until 1934 - probably years after the Paxson Zoo was no longer around.

More information

Back in 2013 the Press of Atlantic City ran an article as part of its "A Life Lived" series. That article stated that the complex - called Paxsonville - also included a motel, restaurant and more.

While the zoo was long gone at the time, a big storm wiped the rest of Paxsonville off the map in 1962.

There is a thread about the complex on the Facebook page, Yeah I'm From Absecon. It's a public page and you can check it out here.

Photo by Rae Wallis on Unsplash
Photo by Rae Wallis on Unsplash

Zoo history in Atlantic County

Another "odd zoo" used to be located at Birch Grove Park in Northfield, although "zoo" might be a stretch. There were a number of animals kept in cages at the park - including, believe it or not, a pair of cougars, or mountain lions.

The attraction closed shortly after a worker was attacked by a deer while cleaning out a cage.

If you have any further information about the Paxson gas station/zoo, we'd love to hear more. You can reach me at joe.kelly@townsquaremedia.com

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