Atapco’s History


Where it all began...

Louis Blaustein and his 18 year old son Jacob founded the American Oil Company in June of 1910. What began with just one horse and a 270-gallon tank wagon later developed into one of America's largest and most innovative oil companies.

Horse and Wagon


The Early Days

Jacob Blaustein

Click to hear Jacob Blaustein talk about the early days of Atapco.

Louis and Jacob Blaustein at American Oil's First Office

This picture, taken in 1912, shows father and son at American Oil's first office, a one-room converted warehouse and stable located on a B&O Railroad yard in South Baltimore. The two men, along with their horse Prince and the wagon driver, began their days at 5:30 in the morning, making the rounds at neighborhood stores to beat out the competition and secure kerosene orders.


Innovation in Gasoline

In 1915, Jacob and Louis Blaustein, along with a collaborating chemist, invented the first benzol-gasoline mixture, producing the world's first "original, special anti-knock motor fuel" that enabled the development of the high-compression engine.

Also shown are a few other innovations credited to the Blausteins: the first oil tank wagon, the first drive-in gas station, and the first gasoline pump with a calibrated gas bowl so motorists could see how much gas they were really getting.

Gasoline Advertisment - Science Marches On
Oil Tank Wagon
Drive-in Gas Station and Gasoline Pump with a Calibrated Gas Bowl


Lord Baltimore Filling Stations, A Force to be Reckoned With

Lord Baltimore Filling Station

By the mid-1920's, The American Oil Company's gas stations on the Atlantic Seaboard (originally known as Lord Baltimore Filling Stations) were helping them to become a major competitor in the industry.


Amoco Helps Make History

Amoco gas fueled Charles Lindbergh's landmark transatlantic flight, which was the first non-stop flight from New York to Paris. Standard Oil was originally scheduled to provide Lindbergh with the oil, but ran into problems and phoned Jacob Blaustein in April, 1927, requesting an emergency shipment.

See the original telegram and Bill of Lading for the drums of gasoline used on Lindbergh's 3,610 mile hop to Paris.

Telegram for Drums of Gasoline for Lindbergh's Transatlantic Flight
Charles Lindbergh
Bill of Lading for Drums of Gasoline for Lindbergh's Transatlantic Flight


Orange American Gas

Orange American Gas Advertisment

In 1930, Amoco launched a huge campaign promoting "Orange American Gas", their newly developed regular motor oil that was dyed orange to protect their customers from the regular being substituted for the premium. Amoco was the first in the industry to do this.


American Trading Corporation Formed

The American Trading and Production Corporation (Atapco) was formed on June 23, 1931 (originally under the name "American Trading Corporation" from 1931-1936) to consolidate, expand and diversify the Blaustein family's business activities. Over the years, Atapco expanded into various sectors of business, some of which included the exploration and production of crude oil and natural gas, marine transportation, commercial real estate development and operation, the manufacturing of communication equipment and sound accessories, office products, advanced security systems and metal stampings, and a controlling interest in Crown Central Petroleum Corporation.


Growth and Progress

By 1936, American Oil's daily sales of gasoline jumped from 500 gallons of gasoline per day to 5 million.

Amoco Gas Advertisment


Atapco Enters the Tanker Business

A Tanker Ship

Atapco entered the marine transportation business in May 1938, when it purchased its first tank vessel, the 12,500 dead weight ton SS Pennsylvania Sun (renamed American Trader), from the Sun Oil Company. During World War II, Atapco acted as a general agent for the War Shipping Administration and operated as many as fourteen vessels in addition to the "American Trader".

After the end of World War II, Atapco acquired additional tankers and diversified its marine transportation activities to include the transportation of crude petroleum, specialty chemical products, vegetable oils, molasses, wine, grain and other finished petroleum products to destinations around the world.


Oil & Gas Division

Oil and Gas Division

Atapco's Oil and Gas Division was established in 1944 to diversify the company's business into the realm of crude oil and natural gas exploration and production. The division (headquartered out of Houston, Texas) conducted exploratory operations, acquired undeveloped oil and gas well leases and managed producing wells in the United States and Western Canada. The Oil and Gas Division, along with the Marine Transportation Division (based out of New York City) were the two principal operating businesses of Atapco until 1953.


Jacob Blaustein, Businessman and Diplomat

Jacob Blaustein with President Kennedy

In addition to being a leading figure in industrial and commercial enterprises, Jacob Blaustein was also a humanitarian, philanthropist and an accomplished diplomat.

In fact, in 1945, President Franklin D. Roosevelt asked Blaustein to attend the formative meetings of the United Nations, where he played an important role in placing the human rights provisions into the UN Charter.

Jacob Blaustein also served as an advisor to a number of additional US Presidents, including Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy, Dwight Eisenhower and Lyndon B. Johnson.

Jacob Blaustein was passionate about human rights and civic service. He said that "Commercial success is not a be-all and end-all in itself. In addition, a man should be helpful to his community". This philosophy is carried through in Atapco today.


Standard Oil Merger

American Oil merged with Standard Oil of Indiana in 1954. The Blaustein family became major stockholders in Standard Oil of Indiana, which eventually changed its name in 1985 to Amoco Corporation.

Standard Oil and Amoco Advertisments


Diversification Continues

Atlas Sound Advertisment

In 1957, steps were taken to move Atapco into fields of activity not associated with the petroleum industry, primarily focusing on real estate and manufacturing. Keeping with this new strategy, Atapco acquired its first manufacturing company in 1961 with the purchase of Atlas Sound Corporation, a world leader in the manufacture of high-quality microphone stands, loud speakers and sound system components.


Blaustein Building

Atapco Enters the Real Estate

Jacob Blaustein played an important role in downtown Baltimore's revival. After a selection committee rejected his proposal for a skyscraper at One Charles Center in favor of a Mies van der Rohe-designed tower, Blaustein bought the Hub Department Store across the street in 1961 and demolished the building to make way for his own building, a 30-story structure that is one story taller than One Charles Center.

The Blaustein Building, which was dedicated in 1964, served as Atapco's company headquarters till 2001 and was one of the key elements that sparked Baltimore's downtown renaissance in the early 1960's.

The Blaustein Building
The Blaustein Building


Forbes Magazine Cover

Jacob Blaustein was featured on the cover of Forbes magazine on September 15, 1968. The article described Jacob Blaustein's contributions to the oil industry, international diplomacy and philanthropy.

Jacob Blaustein on Forbes Magazine Cover


Atapco Continues to Acquire Real Estate

Atapco, under the name "American Trading Real Estate Properties, Inc.", continued to acquire properties from 1961 until the reorganization of the company in 1998. The company's portfolio was diverse, ranging from parking garages to apartment complexes to hotels and office buildings, as well as office parks. The property locations were diverse as well, including such areas as:

  • Los Angeles, CA
  • Ocala, FL
  • Rockville, MD
  • Orangeburg, NY
  • Christiana, DE
  • Baltimore, MD
  • Chantilly, VA
  • Dallas, TX
An Atapco Building

1999 to Now

Atapco Properties

Quality Commercial Developers

At the very end of 1998, the company completed a tax-free reorganization, splitting into three separate and unrelated companies, and converted to a subchapter S corporation. Atapco today represents the interests of the Hirschhorn and Roswell branches of the descendants of Louis Blaustein. At present, Atapco’s active business interest is the acquisition, development and operation of high-quality commercial real estate properties. Atapco’s rich history, solid foundation and dedication to excellence will assure continued success for years to come.