by Kevin Walsh

Continued from Part One

MTA employee and former bus driver Gary Fonville has assisted FNY in finding odd stuff around town almost since FNY’s beginning in 1999. Here, he turns his attention to bank buildings now used for different purposes…

Forgotten New York correspondent


Next to a functioning Citibank on Myrtle Avenue, near Bleecker St., majestically sitting next to the Myrtle Avenue el in Bushwick, Brooklyn sits this former Hamburg Savings Bank branch.   Did the name “Hamburg” come from Hamburg Avenue, a few blocks away, which is now Wilson Avenue?  The bank, founded around 1905, eventually morphed into Home Savings of America around 1992.   The building currently houses a discount clothing retailer.  Was this the bank when the building ceased being used for its original purpose?


Did these corrosion stains from its former moniker think  it would evade FNY’s cameras?  It ain’t happening!


A classic bank entrance from days gone by.


A modern bank would probably put a digital clock here.  Can you imagine what it looked like with an analog clock here back in the day?


Its incorporation date in Roman numerals. Can you read it? I can’t… {there’s some letters missing. Any ideas?]


Brooklyn Federal Savings Bank has left a fairly discernible faded sign here on the SE corner of Court & Livingston Street, in Downtown Brooklyn, Brooklyn.  Currently Investors Bank, a newly minted institution, has taken the space.


An almost faded trace of Greenwich Savings Bank, here  on East 23rd  Street in Manhattan, reminds us of this former banking institution.  Greenwich, started in 1833 eventually merged to form Crossland Bank.  Are there any FNY fans who remember where any of their branches were?


As it says, this bank was originally a branch of the Green Point  Savings Bank on Washington Avenue, between Lincoln Place and Eastern Parkway, in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn. After several corporate changes, it has turned into Capital One Bank.


This inscription, I suppose, was meant to be seen from Eastern Parkway.  However, construction of an apartment building on the corner of Washington Avenue & Eastern Parkway dashed that plan.  It can only be seen by standing at an angle from the bank, from across the street.


After mergers, the purchaser bank usually tries to erase traces of the building’s former name.  Not here!


In most instances, when a bank is converted from its original purpose, it never goes back to being a bank.  However, it happened here on 86th Street & 21st Avenue in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn.  It was a bank, then a clothing retailer, now  again a bank.  Can any FNY fans give info as to what bank it was formerly and what retailer was there? Currently, its a branch of Investors Bank, a new kid on the block in the banking world.  I’ve been seeing them pop up around town.


The smell of fried chicken now fills  the air here at Westchester Avenue & Southern Boulevard, The Bronx. It  was the location for what I seem to remember being a Manufacturers Hanover Bank in the mid 1980s.  Am I correct?


Traces of Manufacturers Hanover can be seen by looking down Lexington Avenue at a building near East 23rd Street in Kips Bay, Manhattan.

It’s rare to see two banks adjacent to each other.  Well, here on Gates Avenue, across the street from the old Gates Theater sits this anomaly.  What is now Faith Assembles of God, Inc., was most definitely a bank.  Can any FNY fan who lived in the neighborhood or who banked here give any info about this building? These magnificent  eagles are strongly reminiscent of the ones that graced the old Pennsylvania Station on the 7th Avenue side, which are sad reminders of the lamented destruction of the former colossal edifice. They sure don’t build banks like this today.

This building  next door last housed Roosevelt Savings Bank. The bank was chartered in 1895 as  the Eastern District Savings Bank of City of Brooklyn. That’s a mouthful.  How would that name fit on a building in today’s banking world?  Today’s banking executives would likely not use that name — too long and too difficult to remember for consumers, they would think. When did the bank close? Any answers out there? A closer look revealers much sunshine coming into the building. Natural sunlight in a building is being ecologically efficient, but this is ridiculous!  The roof is virtually gone but the facade remains.  Does this mean the building will be reconstructed?  Let’s keep our fingers crossed.


At the northern end of Stuyvesant Avenue and Vernon Avenue, in Bedford Stuyvesant Brooklyn sits this classic building.  I believe it was a Prudential branch.  What was it?

Got a Big Mac attack?  Go here to Church & Nostrand Avenues where you may be satiated.  Surprisingly, the interior wasn’t altered as much as I thought it would be to accommodate this fast food emporium.  I oughtta know.  I’ve been in there a few times to get my Nuggets  and fries on!  It was at one time a branch of the Lincoln Savings Bank.  Can anyone tell when this building no longer was a bank and what bank was its last tenant.  When did it become a McDonalds?

As landlords try to maximize income, more than one tenant occupies this former bank.  An orthodontics office faces the Nostrand Avenue side.

There’s no doubt as to what bank called this building home…


On Seigel Street & Graham Avenue in East Williamsburg, Brooklyn sits this building that’s a question mark to me.  But it sure looks like it was a bank at one time?


You gotta admit it looks like it was a bank, especially with the clock over the door. Any FNY fans who could solve this riddle?  Now houses Leon De Oro restaurant.


In a rare instance, I forgot exactly what street this former National City Bank of New York, now Citibank is.  I do know it’s in the Jamaica shopping district around 161st Street, between Jamaica & Archer Avenues.

The narrowness of this street prevented me from getting a great shot.  In addition, it would almost be impossible to see this time of the year, summer,  because of foliage.  This photo was taken on March 17, 2014.


Winter helped me to get a decent picture of its moniker.


What bank predated this current Duane Reade location on the SE corner of Spring & Lafayette Streets in in Soho?


Corrosion stains tried to leave illegible traces here at Spring & Lafeyette. What does it say?  I know there is someone who can give info on this one!


At West 73rd Street, Broadway and Amsterdam Avenue sits the Apple Bank for Savings.  Built of gray Indiana limestone, this fortress-like building was constructed around 1926.  Fortunately, it received landmark status in 1975.


Management at Apple Bank decided not to hide the name of the building’s original tenant, Central Savings Bank.  Central was chartered in 1859 as the German Savings Bank.


Calyer Street & Manhattan Avenue in Greenpoint, Brooklyn has housed this banking location for many years.  Its namesake bank, Green Point Savings Bank, has been  a Capital One bank since 2007.  Immediately before that, it was a North Fork bank.


Built for the New York County National Bank in 1907, this former bank sits at the NW corner of Weat 14th Street & 8th Avenue. New York County Bank merged with Chatham & Phoenix National Bank in 1923.  In 1926, it merged with the Metropolitan Trust Company.  A few years later, it became a takeover target for Manufacturers Trust Company.  Once again, it changed names, finally becoming Manufacturers Hanover Trust Company.  If the bank had remained a Manufacturers branch, it probably would have become a Chase location.  The street level space recently housed Nickel Spa for Men, now closed. The upper level now is reserved as  living space reserved for the mega rich.


Here’s the evidence of its original tenant’s name.

It’s difficult to get a great shot of the entire building that once housed Bowery Savings Bank on 42nd Street between Park Avenue South & Lexington Avenue.  Opened in  the early 1920s, the bank was a Bowery location.  Bowery was acquired  by the Home Savings of America bank.  The space was then used by Green Point bank in 1995.  I believe it’s a super expensive restaurant now.

There aren’t too many traces of the Corn Exchange Bank left around anymore.  Its branch on Park Avenue & 125th Street in Harlem was allowed to deteriorate until the point of no return.  It was ordered to be demolished by the City because of structural weakness.  There are plans afloat to reconstruct the now demolished building.  I came upon this former Corn Exchange location by accident last month at Queens Plaza North, near 29th Street.  Corn Exchange was among a group of banks that were acquired by Chemical Bank over the years.  They joined Chase Manhattan, Manufacturers Hanover and Texas Commerce as takeover targets.




Jeff August 13, 2014 - 6:45 pm

I don’t think there are any missing letters in that date; they are too evenly spaced. It reads, “AD MCMV” (1905).

Old Skool August 13, 2014 - 7:14 pm

I always meant to go inside the Bowery Savings Bank on 42nd Street but never got around to it. Now that it is Cipriano’s I don’t think I can afford it. That corner of West 14th and 8th Ave is the northern edge of the hood I hang out in whenever I get to the city. Those two former banks give the area a touch of class even in their dotage.

Tal Barzilai August 13, 2014 - 8:03 pm

Until I saw that picture of what’s now a Checker’s, the only Bronx locations I knew was in Co-op City and near Yankee Stadium.

Joe Fliel August 14, 2014 - 2:00 am

Hamburg Savings Bank was so named because Bushwick, at the time, was a predominantly German neighborhood. Unlike Hamburg Avenue, its name wasn’t changed to reflect anti-German sentiment after World War I. Eastern District Savings Bank of City of Brooklyn changed its name to Roosevelt Savings Bank of the City of New York (1920), Roosevelt Savings Bank (1976), merged with, and became, The Roslyn Savings Bank, (1999) and finally became New York Community Bank (2003). There is a former Corn Exchange Bank on the southeast corner of Manhattan and Greenpoint Aves. This was later a Chemical Bank and now is an HSBC branch.

Andy Subbiondo August 14, 2014 - 10:30 am

It’s a pretty good bet that the name of Hamburg Avenue was changed to Wilson Avenue sometime around 1917.

Heather August 14, 2014 - 12:23 pm

Two buildings that immediately come to mind not on your list: The building that Second Stage Theatre is housed in was a former bank (43rd Street and 8th Avenue). The architect who made the conversion put the box office in the vault. The other is the building that Mario Batali’s restaurant OTTO is in – 8th Street near 5th Avenue – I’m fairly certain it was a bank at one time as well, though I do not know which one.

Mike of Bensonhurst August 14, 2014 - 2:07 pm

The bank on 86th St. and 21st Ave in Bensonhurst was most recently a New York & Company clothing store. I think it was a Dime of Williamsburgh branch. I used to work on 86th St & 20 Ave at Uncle Bobby’s Bagels where the McDonald’s express stand now.

Ginger December 10, 2018 - 8:44 pm

Yup, you are right! I found an Etsy seller that sells passbook envelopes from banks of long ago and one of the two I purchased was for this very location. I was able to match up many banking institutions from the very images and addresses portrayed on the selections she offered, but after my order she removed 98% of her store and the images vanished with it as well.

Jeffrey H. Wasserman August 15, 2014 - 6:00 am

As an example of an old bank turned into a retail store and eventually back into a bank: The current Investors Bank on the southwest corner of Avenue U and Ocean Avenue in Brooklyn was a used record shop for many years. Previously it was a bank. I believe it was a branch of the Manufacturers Hanover Trust Company. The exterior of the first floor has been re-clad and modernized.,-73.95141,3a,75y,261.74h,90.09t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1st-xtqbu8IQxSUds2GP7d_A!2e0

Bill J. Smith December 8, 2018 - 10:31 pm

The bank you are talking about on Ave. U and Ocean was originally a branck of Brooklyn Trust Company, a bank that was taken over in 1950 by Manufacturers.

There is a picture, circa 1940, from the the recently released NYC Tax Photos project, with the old name:

Fred Glazer August 15, 2014 - 11:18 am

The bank at Spring & Lafayette Sts (southeast corner) was East River Savings Bank.
Also, Greenwich Savings Bank was on 6th Ave, I believe at 36th St.
And a nit pick: the Bowery Savings Bank cum Cipriani’s on 42nd St is east of Park Ave (& Pershing Sq), not Park Ave South.

Adrastos August 15, 2014 - 2:07 pm

I think the “Investors Bank” on 21st ave, which is around the corner from where I live was “The bank of New York” like decades ago when I first moved in. Then it was New York and Co, which I believe was Lerners takeover. I have to do more research to make sure Im correct.

gary August 16, 2014 - 10:19 am

To Heather: Yes, there is a part III coming. And yes, a picture of what I remember being a Manufacturers Hanover branch at the NW corner of 89th & 43rd WILL appear!

gary August 16, 2014 - 11:29 am

To Heather again: That was a typo. it should have been 8th Av. & 43rd Street, NW corner in Manhattan.

emjayay August 17, 2014 - 10:09 am

The Trader Joe’s in Brooklyn on Court street is in what was definitely a freestanding bank building.

The Chase Bank on 86th St in Brooklyn at 19th Ave a few blocks from the investor’s Bank is in an old bank building with a really big and pretty impressive main room. I think it was always some brand of bank but like many changed to Chase after being a WaMu after being whatever it started as.

Joe Fliel August 18, 2014 - 11:55 pm

Trader Shmoe’s is located in what was once the headquarters of the South Brooklyn Savings Bank, later known as Independence Savings Bank.

SusanJ August 18, 2014 - 1:59 pm

Have you seen the Manufacturers Hanover Trust Bank on Bedford Avenue at DeKalb Avenue? The nicest bank guards worked there. I think it’s a church of some sort now. Across the street is the Dimes Savings Bank, now Chase? The interior was magnificent so long ago.

Mirtika March 2, 2018 - 1:34 am

You wrote: The smell of fried chicken now fills the air here at Westchester Avenue & Southern Boulevard, The Bronx. It was the location for what I seem to remember being a Manufacturers Hanover Bank in the mid 1980s. Am I correct?~~~~

Yes, you are correct. That was a MHB at that corner. My SIL worked there and my mom had an account there when I was a kid and lived not too far. We shopped regularly at the Southern Blvd shops and went to the movies there, too. Kinda sad to see it’s a Checkers there now. 🙁


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