by Professor Lloyd Ultan
Banks are needed to provide the financing for business expansion and to give homeowners mortgages. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, some had their headquarters in the borough.
The first attempt to begin a bank in The Bronx was in 1860 in Morrisania, but this pioneer effort did not last long. The first Bronx-based bank to flourish was established in 1888 as the Twenty-third Ward Bank at 145th Street at the junction of Third and Courtlandt avenues. The bank grew with the borough. Within a few years, it moved to 133rd Street and Southern Boulevard near the heavily used New Haven Railroad station. In 1900, it moved to a new and larger building at 135th Street and Third Avenue. By 1907, two branches opened, one at Boston Road and 164th Street and the other on Third Avenue near 148th Street. In the booming business climate of the 1920s, the Twenty-third Ward Bank was converted into the Bronx County Trust Company.
The influx of new homeowners to The Bronx prompted several Bronx businessmen to establish the first savings bank in the borough, the Dollar Savings Bank, in 1900. The new institution grew rapidly. It had to move from Third Avenue and 146th Street to larger quarters at Third near 149th Street in 1915, and again to the corner of 147th Street and Willis and Third avenues in 1919. Even that building was enlarged in 1926 before a branch was opened on the Grand Concourse north of Fordham Road in 1932.
In 1902, the Bronx Borough Bank opened at Tremont near Clinton avenues, later moving to Tremont and Park avenues. In 1924, it moved to Tremont and Washington avenues. In 1907, it established a branch at White Plains Road near 217th Street.
Other banks followed. The North Side Savings Bank organized in 1905 at Third Avenue near 153rd Street. The Bronx Savings Bank opened at Tremont near Crotona avenues in 1906, but moved to Tremont and Park avenues in 1911. Also in 1906, the Cosmopolitan Bank began at Prospect and Westchester avenues, establishing two branches in the 1920s, one at Southern Boulevard near Freeman Street and the other at Fordham near Kingsbridge roads. In 1907, the Bronx National Bank appeared at Bergen Avenue and 149th Street and, in 1911, moved to 149th Street near Third.
These banks either failed in the 1930s Depression or were later merged into larger metropolitan banks. No Bronx-based bank now remains.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
The Dollar Savings Bank building still stands on the Grand Concourse and is an individual New York City Landmark. Read the New York Landmark Preservation Commission Designation Report at the database maintained by The Neighborhood Preservation Center – neighborhoodpreservationcenter.org/db/bb_files/Dollar-Savings-Bank-Building.pdf