Banking made this town, and the bank buildings of the 19th and early 20th centuries continue to house some of New York’s most classic architecture and design. Greek, Roman, and even Byzantine Revival architectures were the style of choice for bank buildings, and those great stone pillars are still worth visiting today. Ahead are some of the most beautiful former bank buildings in New York City.
National City Bank
The building at 55 Wall Street is now a condominium with a glorious ballroom and event hall attached, but it was once the headquarters of National City Bank (not the Ohio one, but what we now call Citibank). Even before that, the building was the United States Custom House, where Herman Melville was said to be the only honest employee (Moby Dick wasn’t paying the bills).
The exterior was built in the 1830s in the Greek Revival style, but our well-traveled readers may recognize a slightly different inspiration in the ballroom above: The interior was rebuilt in the early 20th century to look like the Pantheon in Rome. Not a bad place to buy a condo, though the building’s past has left a few grisly remnants: As recently as 1998, the building basement still contained a dozen jail cells, once used by the Custom House to detain “spies, smugglers, Confederates, and pirates.”
The Bowery Savings Bank as of 1898. Image © Wikimedia Commons
Bowery Savings Bank
The Bowery Savings Bank is just another run-of-the-mill gorgeous event hall housed in a 19th-century bank with a thing for Roman architecture. The once-proud Bowery Savings Bank is now only a small chunk of Capital One’s assets, but the building was named a landmark, and it lives on as a restaurant, night club, and wedding space owned by Capitale.
The building was designed by Stanford White, the same man responsible for the arch in Washington Square Park and the Rosecliff mansion in Newport. You may also remember White as the famous architect who is murdered in Ragtime.
A wedding taking place inside Capitale New York, formerly the Bowery Savings Bank. Image © Casey Fatchett
The interior of the Williamsburgh Savings Bank. Image © New York Architecture League
Williamsburgh Savings Bank
The Williamsburgh Savings Bank created two true Brooklyn landmarks, one a tall clock tower that is now a luxury condo (called One Hanson Place) and the other a beautiful Greco-Roman domed building that is now an event hall.
The tower was the headquarters of the bank which is now a piece of HSBC, designed in a Byzantine style and built in the 1920s. The domed bank building continued as a bank until 2010, when it was sold for $4.5 million, changing its name to Weylin B. Seymour’s, a false name invented so the building could proudly match its former acronym which is prominently placed around the building.
The Brooklyn skyline at sunset, prominently featuring the Savings Bank Tower. Image © Payton Chung
The East River Savings Bank, now a Duane Reade. Image © Eden, Janine and Jim
East River Savings Bank
The great architect Cass Gilbert can boast that he designed at least three truly spectacular buildings: The Woolworth Building, the U.S. Supreme Court building, and the prettiest Duane Reade in New York City. At the corner of Spring and Lafayette, a Duane Reade with spectacular pillars both inside and out wows customers looking to buy some Advil and toilet paper.
The building formerly housed the East River Savings Bank, which actually has several former branches now housing pharmacies in New York. The bank’s assets were sold to Marine Midland Bank, now HSBC.
Do you know of any other beautiful banks in the city that have been repurposed? Share them with us in the comments!
Neighborhoods : Financial District