Where to go mermaid watching in Echo Park

Chelsea, the gas station mermaid, now taking shape at Sunset Boulevard and Portia Street

Swirling blue mosaic images top the gas station

Echo Park is about fifteen, traffic-congested miles from the sea. But that fact did not stop the owners of a new neighborhood gas station from decorating the building with an underwater motif, complete with mosaic murals of fish and mermaids.  In fact, there are two mermaids at the new United Oil station that is a few weeks away from opening at the the corner of Sunset Boulevard and Portia Street.  One of the mermaids floats high on a wall inside the station and convenience store; the other mosaic mermaid, mounted on an exterior wall by the front doors,  will wave out at motorists pumping gas.

This is the site of the former Megna station that served as unofficial street art gallery after that station went out of business.   United Oil bulldozed the buildings  last year and built a new gas station from scratch.  What inspired United Oil, which is known for operating a chain of fancy and fanciful gas stations, to come up with an underwater theme for their Echo Park station?  Designer Marla Sher, who worked on the project, explains

 The Owner of United Oil, Jeff Appel, is the guiding force who determines the direction and theme of his many stores and stations. Jeff never likes to repeat design solutions. Therefore each of his stores offer something different to his customers. The Echo Park station was inspired by his love of the ocean. His niece, Chelsea, was the inspiration behind the mermaid in the mosaic underwater scene left of the main entrance.

United Oil officials expect their Echo Park gas station mermaids to be greeting customers in a few weeks.

Workers apply mosaics to wall of gas station. Mermaid at far left.

The mermaid inside

Gas station mermaid will be sharing the corner with another female image

Mosaic detail

Gas station rendering/Courtesy Marla Sher



  1. woohoo! Generally United Oil has great prices. Take THAT, overpriced 76 station!

  2. I will make a point of supporting a business that stresses the importance of art. This is a rarety in Los Angeles. Although mermaid mosaics are not my favorite motif, I appreciate that the owner didn’t just throw up an ugly, boring, stucco, awful gas station, but instead put some thought into it and has given artists work! This place has my business. Smart move in a creative corner of the world likek Echo Park!

  3. this is great … odd considering the location, but very nice notheless … i’ll give em some bucks for whimsying up the place. Thanks!

  4. Way cool. Probably easier to clean tags off of the ceramic too!

  5. Very very cool.

  6. Eastside Gangbanger

    I cant wait to spray paint some of my illegible chicken scratch over this mural. Gentrification is bad!

  7. Looks like United Oil is really trying hard to stand out. I really like their United Oil in View Park, CA. http://www.panoramio.com/photo/21591248

  8. I guess if you are speaking on tagging, you are calling on it. I would suggest that whoever doesn’t like gentification in Echo Park, should give those new condos’ a face lift on the avenue. Just put some nice creative art on them and in no time they will be selling out, and then none of these imports will want to live in them. Then they will start taking section eight, and the gentrifier will get gentrified! It might be time to depreciate the value of the neighborhood and make it more affordable Attention middle class, there is also a working class here in Echo Park!

    • Lots of wishful thinking. You think a little spray paint dished out from a couple derelicts will scare anyone? Keep wishing and keep packing your bags…

      • …loose lips, sink ships’! I am not packing no time soon, this is going to be directed towards you being so ignorant beanteam. Keep enticing a situation and see how far you get, if you don’t know by now you get more bees’ with honey than with your mouth. I am in it for the long hall, and my grandparents bought our house brand new in like 1944. We will see how long these run of the mill folks last.

        • so, did their brand new 1944 house get defaced by the troglodytes that already lived here who were getting all bent out of shape about evolution?

          • I guess they did get bent out of shape, like if you are a superior species or something. You are so intelligent, you just might be from a different universe.

          • Just know that wild horses couldn’t drag me away.

    • Please stop threatening your neighbors with violence and property damage. Exercise a little charity and dignity, and contribute something more to your community than trying to whip up negative sentiment and tear others down. Do you get out and volunteer? Do you help the low-income and the homeless? Or do you just cheer from the sidelines while gangbangers scribble on local storefronts, put stray bullets into our children’s bodies as collateral damage of their turf wars, and stab gay neighbors to flatter their bigotry?

      I’m raising kids here – I don’t need your selfish turf war.

      Step into the light, brother. You’re slipping into darkness. Just because you inherited a house here from your parents’ parents doesn’t mean you’re following the path of Christ or contributing positively to this place – it just means you’re as fortunate in your own way as the ‘trustfunders’ you denigrate. Get over yourself, and lend a hand to others.

  9. Greybeard you seem genuinely sincere, although; as of lately the only bullets that have really struck anyone was the cops striking my friend intentionally on Echo Park and Sunset. Those were not stray bullets, and for the most part it is gang member on gang member shooting. It seems a cop out, a little paint as an excuse to permanently remove whoever doesn’t fit ones certain life style. I wasn’t threatening no one with violence, but merely making a point. Have you been reading all comments prior to these and given it an honest analogy? Only god knows a mans heart, so you may not know whether or not I am capable in making change in ones lives. Helping hand? I think the whole world should consider a helping hand, instead of kicking people when they are totally down.

  10. And which brand of gas will they be carrying? Because, you know, that would be useful info.

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