Bowery Savings: The World in a Building

November 11th, 2008 · 57 Comments · Explore New York

Tinos green marble is a vivid green-blue with wide white veins, mined from the quarries of a small mountainous Greek island in the Aegean Sea. Briar Hill sandstone is an earthy stone of warm red, rust, brown, and buff-colored tones taken from quarries in Glenmont, Ohio. Missouri is the source of Napoleon gray marble, while Rouge Royal is a stone from Belgium of reddish-pink hues with gray and white veins.

These materials with intriguing names come from places hundreds, even thousands of miles apart. You may not get to all of these places and tramp upon their lands. But you can see them all, and more, in one place: the Bowery Savings Bank building on East 42nd Street in New York. We know the phrase “a world in a grain of sand,” but the phrase “a world in a single building” is equally true. Many parts of the earth come together in a single one of our most wondrous buildings.

It’s difficult to grasp how many different kinds of stone and marble and other fine materials those who planned and built the Bowery Savings Bank brought together. Both the exterior and the interior of the bank building, at 110-120 East 42nd Street in Manhattan, are designated as New York City landmarks.

The building doesn’t call as much attention to itself as other beautiful, eye-catching landmarks in the city. Still, it looks like a piece of an Old Europe city tucked across from Grand Central Station, with its grand rounded arches, detailed stone carving, and a rock-solidness that feels centuries old though it was constructed in the early 20th century.

The building contains all of the materials cited above – the Tinos marble, Ohio sandstone, Napoleon gray marble, and Rouge Royal marble – and much, much more variety. The word “rich” doesn’t so it justice, though it’s not flashy like casinos and other temples of today. Those who designed and built the bank and created the stonework let their dreams come true, it seems. Just consider that in the main banking hall, those responsible for this great place brought materials for the floor from the marble quarries of more than a half-dozen countries. For the six thick, gorgeous columns on the main banking room’s east wall, for instance, the marble for each column is from a quarry in six different places, from the south of France and the Italian Alps to Belgium.

Ghosts of Bank Lines Past

Where part of the old Grand Union Hotel stood, Bowery Savings constructed a proud new bank in the early 1920s. It came at a time when it was important, in the bank’s view, to encourage the masses not only to save but to have faith in saving. (“A mutual institution chartered 1834 to serve those who save” is carved in stone above the arch of the main entrance.) “The Bowery” was one of New York’s oldest and most venerable banks.

By the early 20th century, it was a prosperous, growing bank situated in a Classical Revival building – a popular style for many banks in those days – on Grand Street. As Manhattan’s commercial district kept moving uptown from Lower Manhattan, the bank wanted to also expand to where the action was and purchased a site on East 42nd Street.

If you were to walk into the great banking hall today, you’d still see the bronze windows and tellers’ counters where thousands of banking customers lined up to deposit their dollars. Part of the landmark designation of the interior is the preservation of this fine metal grill work. The building is a savings bank no more — its main space is now Cipriani 42nd Street, an upscale catering hall for events such as weddings, with offices above.

Picture, however, the era in which this building was born, the booming early 1920s when people already here in the city and many thousands of immigrants were earning money in the factories, stores, ports, and offices. Creating a new bank building in those days was a big deal. Today, we have banks seemingly on every corner of New York City and dozens along suburban highways that are nondescript, plastic and concrete, and indistinguishable from a chain store. Many of us bank through computers and the Internet, and the important weekly or daily bank trip is no more.

However, when the Bowery put up its new building in 1921-1923, banks were of a different ethic and experience. As more people began to deposit their money into banks in those days, it was important to convey that savings banks were strong, solid, prosperous, and secure enough to hold your savings. And yet there’s something more than simple solidity. Bowery Savings’ architectural firm, York & Sawyer, already was renowned for designing many grand banks in New York and outside of the city.

Celebrating Savings

In the Bowery Savings Bank, York & Sawyer created a building that conjures up saving money as an important ritual, as the New York Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) notes in its research. You could feel almost like royalty walking into a building such as this one at the time and depositing your $2. A customer walked through a vestibule with a low ceiling out into a vast banking hall with 65-foot-high ceilings and the most beautiful marble and granite of the world.

The Bowery Savings Bank departs from the predominant classical styles of banks in the early 20th century that were more like Greek temples. It is Italian Romanesque style, drawing from the form of a Middle Age church in the Emilian region of Italy, marked by its arched entranceway to the banking room, as the LPC noted. York & Sawyer chose this style as a way to seamlessly combine a tall office tower with soaring rounded arches – like a fortress tower – with a central banking space.

From across East 42nd Street on its north side, I stand back and admire the way 10th century Italy came to 20th century New York. What thrills me even more is how so many exquisite materials from around the world converge in a single building. “In but few buildings have the architects made such generous use of stone and marble and in but few have designers acquired so pleasing and decorative effects,” wrote Stone Magazine in August, 1923. William Bradley & Son was responsible for the building’s marble and stone.

The first thing I notice is the grandness of the outside entrance to the bank’s main hall, with the variegated stone blocks in rich brown, red, and warm pink. The archway is bordered by rope-like “archivolts,” the ornamental moldings carved in floral, spiral, and chevron patterns. I think about the hundreds and hundreds of people walking through the grand entranceway to open savings accounts – 2,500 did so on the bank’s opening day in 1923!

The customer’s walk through the low vestibule into the grand banking hall was like the entrance of a church or other important space, and this was no accident. As the Landmarks Preservation Commission noted, this gave the sense of savings as an important ritual of life, and the place as a trusted sanctuary for this ritual.

World Geography at a Glance

Consequently, no expense was spared and no effort lost in creating the banking hall, which has 60-foot ceilings. The 16,000-square-foot Romanesque-Byzantine room gives the experience of walking into an Italian basilica, in which your eyes are uplifted toward such splendor. This is where it’s most evident that the architects and builders truly brought a world together. On both the east and west walls, for instance, are six 98-foot-tall columns, each one of a different marble from throughout the world – Rouge Jaspe from the south of France; green marble from the Italian Alps; Campan Melange from the Pyrenees Mountains; Rouge Royal from quarries in the north of Belgium; Tinos marble from the Greek island of Tinos; and Levanto marble from the Apennine mountain range.

What kind of effort did it take to bring so many glorious, beautiful materials from many distant places? I marvel at how all it converges in this huge space. The walls are massive variegated blocks of sandstone from Ohio, known as Briar Hill sandstone and Buff Mountain sandstone, in rich, earthy tones mixed in with Buff Indiana limestone. Looking downward, one sees a floor of buff-colored marble inlaid with geometric-patterned mosaics. For this floor, the stone company brought together marble from the quarries of a half-dozen countries.

Continuing to gaze around the interior is similarly like a geographic tour. As Stone magazine described in its 1923 article heralding the new bank, the oblong-shaped ventilators between the pillars are of Napoleon gray marble from Missouri. The lower portion of the tellers’ counters is of Levanto marble, from quarries near Carrara, Italy. Adjacent to the main banking hall is the elevator hall, with walls and carved gargoyle figures under the dome in St. Genevieve golden-veined marble, also from Missouri.

“The Immigrants’ Bank”

A lover of the marble, limestone, and other materials from the earth could spend hours studying this building. Since it is not used as a bank today, the peek must be fairly quick, however – unless you are one of the lucky people at a catered affair here. I walked into the old banking hall and inquired about the catering business there today, then started chatting about the Bowery Savings Bank’s illustrious history with the doorman/guard.

“This was the immigrants’ bank,” the guard said. “My grandma had her money ripped off in Poland, so she’d put it in a mattress. But when you built a bank like this, it gave people confidence that they could put their money there.”

That faith would be tested — and in many banks’ cases, trammeled – by the stock market crash and Great Depression less than a decade after the opening of the building on East 42nd Street. As during prior panics and depressions, the Bowery weathered the Great Depression. The bank erected a six-story addition to the building in 1931-1933. In 1934, the Bowery marked its centenary with a celebration. In the office at 110 East 42nd Street, Bowery Savings displayed one of two small leather trunks in which the bank had stored its first savings and security deposit boxes in 1834. One hundred years later, in 1934, it had 400,000 depositors.

Today, the Bowery Savings Bank is no more. In the 1980s after bank deregulation, its earnings could not keep pace with payments to depositors on higher interest-rate savings accounts. The bank was sold less than two years after a rescue by a group of investors, according to The New York Times.

Is there irony in the fact that a place building much of its prosperity on small savings deposits is now a swanky banquet hall? Perhaps there is. The Bowery, however, still pays out to those who spend a moment or two to treasure the beauty and magnificence of the Earth’s richness as captured in this one building. That’s priceless.

Note: A thank-you to Peggy B. Perazzo and Pat Perazzo, who have created and compiled a site, Stone Quarries and Beyond, for aid in research by providing the Stone magazine articles.

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57 Comments so far ↓

  • Phyllis

    I can close my eyes and see my Gramma walking into the bank on a payday afternoon . . . putting her $2 into a savings account so Christmas this year would be a little better for her 11 children!

    A great urban story that makes me what to book a flight soon to see the building!

    And, thank you, Susan, for this mindful way to engage with the cities we all love. A great new entry into what my Mom calls “all this www-stuff”. Congratulations and I love it! Phylis

  • Susan DeMark

    Two dollars meant a lot in our parents’ and grandparents’ time of raising us. Makes me think of those little leather passbooks the banks once gave out for savings, when putting in a dollar or two felt special.

    The whole area around the Bowery Savings Bank on East 42nd Street is worth the flight, with the Chanin Building and its spectacular terra-cotta frieze; Raymond Hood’s Daily News building with its giant globe; and of course Grand Central and the Chrysler Building, among others.

    Thank you from my heart (and my exploring soul) for your inspiring, wonderful compliments and kind words. I plan to keep this site up to speed – and more – for the discerning and keenly observant travelers like you!

  • Marguerite

    My father worked at the Bowery Savings Bank for over 40 years, finally retiring in 1974. He was president of the employees association and used to have Christmas parties for the children of employees every year down in that absolutely gorgeous lobby. I remember how much fun it was to go to work with him.

    Does anyone remember the name of the restaurant that was across the side street from the bank? I want to say something like President’s Restaurant, but I think that is wrong. If anyone can remember, I would really appreciate it. My mother met my father there when she was a waitress.

    • Barbara

      I just found a tax return from back in 1975. I was a minor at the time. It looked like my father had a savings account in my name from the Bowery Savings Bank. I never knew about this until now. Bowery Savings Bank is long gone. Wonder if the money is still around or if I can trace it back and see if this account was closed out.

      My father most likely opened up this account on Bowery and Grand. We were from N.J., but my father used to come to the Bowery to buy baking and restaurant supplies. I wonder if I there is still money floating in my name. It’s most likely the account is closed out but you never know. I found 15,000 15 years after my father died in another account. If you know how to trace something like this, let me know.

      • Susan DeMark

        Hi, Barbara,

        Wow, that is interesting. I have not had that happen to me. The only things I could suggest are talking to a financial advisor or Googling this issue to find a good article that advises how to do what you are considering, in terms of tracing this account.

        I Googled it for a moment and found that the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) has an informational page, after I put in a search question of “how does someone claim money in an old bank account if the bank has closed.” Good luck to you!

        Susan

  • Susan DeMark

    Marguerite,

    What great memories! I can almost have a feel for the bank and its warmth from your stories. It sounded like the bank was a good place to work. Christmas parties in that gracious and beautiful lobby? Wow.

    I’ve done a little preliminary research looking for the name of that restaurant on East 42nd Street, but so far no luck. Perhaps someone else remembers, and I’ll keep digging.

    Thanks for your memories of the Bowery Savings Bank!

    Susan

  • Merrian

    Are you able to tell me what happened to the Bowery Savings Bank? Did they merge under a new name? I banked with the Bowery as a child. We took the money to school and it was deposited into our account, a way for children to learn the importance of saving. Thanks for your article.

    Merrian

  • Susan DeMark

    Merrian,

    So glad that you enjoyed the article. I have somewhat similar memories of learning about money as a child. My mom opened an account for us, and we learned how to save by taking our change and dollars to the bank. We had a passbook, and I loved mine. (It took me awhile to learn how to become a better saver!)

    Did you go the Bowery Savings Bank building on East 42nd Street?

    As for what happened to the Bowery Savings Bank, in the 1980s the bank ran into some hard times. Its earnings could not keep pace with how much it was paying out in higher-interest deposits. When the Bowery was on the edge of collapse, a group of investors bought it in 1985, aided by federal support. Then, less than two years later, H. F. Ahmanson & Company, which owned a lot of savings and loans banks, purchased Bowery Savings, according to The New York Times.

    In 1992, the name was changed to Home Savings of America, Bowery Division.

    It’s too bad that the name was lost after such a long and storied history, since it was chartered in 1834.

    Susan

  • Dorothy E.Christy

    I worked at the Bowery Savings Bank, from 1965 to 1981. I remember till this day walking into the Bank at 110 East 42nd St., as a young girl from the Lower East Side. I could not imagine working in such a magnificent setting. Everyday, reporting to my teller station was a treat. I have not forgotten till this day (I’m 71). Customer relations was the top priority. In those days the customer was king.

    • Ed Murray

      I worked for BSB from 1961 to 1969 in the Mortgage Department. I was good friends with George Hemingway and Ed McKenna.

    • Robert Dezendorf

      It was about 1964-65 I left a sales job at B.Altman & Co. at 5th Ave and 34th St. for a Teller’s job with the Bowery. My friend Dennis Farrell was working at BSB’s 42nd St location and suggested the bank as a better choice. He was right. I trained at 42nd St. – I remember my teacher Mr. Potter, an older man with a very kind disposition. After initial training I was transferred to the branch at 5th Ave and 34th St. across from B. Altman and the Empire State Building. I remember the great food in the upstairs cafeteria. The only name I remember at 34th St was Glenn Manning (sp?), who once gave me some very good advice on a wine selection for a date I had planned.

      In December, 1965 I got a letter from President Lyndon B. Johnson with an NYC subway token taped to the top of it and directions to Whitehall Street for my pre-induction physical. Rather than the Army, I enlisted in the Navy.

      I was searching for some sort of blog for former employees. I would like to see a list of employees at both branches circa 1964-1980.

      I remember visiting 42nd St in the late 70′s and running into a former class trainee who had become a Vice Pres., but his name eludes me, Richard, or Robert … trained around 1964/1965.

      The “Chest” mentioned here – does it list names? I would welcome any info on blogs or alumni employees.

      I remember the ads by Roy Doty of “Wordless Workshop” fame, done for The Bowery.

      • Susan DeMark

        Robert,

        Thank you for your very interesting note about your experience of the Bowery. I continue to be impressed by how experiences at the Bowery have stayed with its former employees (and how people have shared that here). I’ve been doing some research to locate any online references about “The Chest,” the employee magazines. Surely, someone has a collection of those issues. I will keep people posted.

        I appreciate your note here, and hopefully people will keep responding.

        Best regards,
        Susan

      • Kathy O

        I have copies of the Chest from my father, “Big Charlie,” dating back to the late 30′s. While there are mentions of weddings and engagements and births of children contained within those many “Chest” publications, there is no list per se of all employees. I do want to share a Web site with you folks that I did share with Susan in a private e-mail; The Web site shows the Bowery after it was taken over by Cipriani, http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2009/10/28/nyregion/ROOMS.html?_r=0
        but it really captures the beauty of that main banking floor on 42nd street — a floor I ran around in and played in when I was a little girl.

        Thanks for your memories, too.

        Kathy O.

        • Susan DeMark

          Kathy,

          I love the image of you running around and playing in that exquisite Bowery bank space when you were a little girl. It must have seemed almost like a palace. Glorious!

          Susan

  • Dorothy E. Christy

    Hi,

    Let’s hear from all my tellers that I supervised from that time period, 1965 to 1981. Wasn’t that a great time to be working for such a great bank? It is so wonderful that 110 East 42nd is now a landmark, a beautiful work of art to be preserved, and to think we spent so many working hours in such a magnificent workplace.

    THE DOT

    • Sandy Rodriguez

      Hello, good to read about the Bowery Bank times, etc. Sandy Rodriguez, worked in the Checking Account Dept. ’78 to ’80 for Charlie & Danny. Then moved up to operation work with Bill & Izzy till 1984, etc. Great time in the landmark! Any info on employee pensions?

      • Susan DeMark

        Hi, Sandy,

        I continue to be very struck by how former employees post and cite their great times working for the Bowery Bank. Your note about it is almost like it was just yesterday. Did you contact the bank that took over about employee pensions (there is info about the changes at Bowery Bank in this thread)? Another former employee might see and respond to your post as well.

        Best regards,
        Susan

  • Susan DeMark

    Hello, Dorothy (“The Dot”),

    Your comments really created a great and vivid picture of what it must have been like to work for Bowery Savings Bank. To this day when I see the interior or think of it, I try to envision what it must have been like to go there every day to work. Well, in two notes here you have captured that…and how magnificent it was.

    I hope you hear from other tellers! I bet you all have such memories!

    Thanks for sharing your memories and the meaning of that beautiful workplace with us.

    Susan

  • Hope Exposito

    Oh Boy!!! Do I remember the Bowery Savings Bank. I also worked there from 1971 until it was taken over — the branches — in the 90′s by GreenPoint Bank. I was secretary/treasurer of the BSB Employees Assn. It was the BEST place to work for…and such an honor to be a part of the Largest Savings Bank in the World.

    Regards to all,
    Hope

  • Dorothy E.Christy

    Hi Susan,

    Do you have interior pictures of the banking floor before it became an elite catering venue? Can’t find them anywhere. I have one of the left side of the banking floor, which also shows the door entrance to the tellers’ area. The other door entrance was straight across to 41st street. Gives you an idea how big it was.

    Stay well.
    The Dot

  • Susan DeMark

    Hi, Dot,

    I have seen pictures of the interior of the Bowery Savings Bank, and the bank interior was magnificent!

    When I was doing article research, I saw photos from Stone magazine in the 1920s, thanks to Peggy B. Perazzo. Along with her husband, George Perazzo, she has compiled many sources and images on quarries, stone carvers, etc. The Perazzos’ site is:

    http://quarriesandbeyond.org/

    Here is a picture of the bank’s main banking room, from the September, 1924 issue of Through the Ages magazine:
    http://quarriesandbeyond.org/states/mo/images/through_ages_mag/mo-bowery_savings_bnk_9-1924.jpg

    As the caption noted in the same photo I saw, from Stone magazine in 1923, this room had a combination of Indiana limestone, a couple of different types of sandstone, marble pillars, and mosaic floor.

    All I can say is: Wow, what a place!

    Is this the area you are talking about? It must have been something to work in such a beautiful place.

    All the best,
    Susan

  • Steve Rosenbach

    Thank you for this wonderful post! I’m reading it for the first time 2-1/2 years after you posted it, and it’s magnificent. The subject matter is very interesting to me, but your writing style is so compelling – I was doing some web research on this building for a post on my photo blog that I added just this morning – I wish I had come across your post beforehand.

    Best regards,
    SteveR

  • Susan DeMark

    Hello, Steve,

    Wow, thank you! I’m very happy that you enjoyed the post about the Bowery Savings Bank so much. It is an amazing place, and it inspires me.

    Likewise, I enjoyed reading your post about the Bowery Savings on your blog. Your photo really captures the grandness, vivid color, and variation of the bank entrance. We cannot so easily walk in to this bank anymore, as others did generations ago with their $5 bills. I do, however, walk in through the front entrance from time to time and tell the security guard that I just want to have a look-see to appreciate it.

    It’s important that we write about and photograph this and other such architectural gems. Perhaps someday the Bowery Savings building will be available for full public viewing and not just for high-end catering events — though at least it is being cared for and preserved, and that is no small thing.

    Thank you again!

    Susan

  • Tom Frenza

    I began working for the Bowery Savings Bank in 1971. The job was offered to me through my high school (Evander Childs) in the Bronx. I only worked at the 42nd Street branch for about a year, then I was transferred to the 34th Street branch at Penn Station. I have nothing but fond memories and enjoyed my first job at the Bowery. Does anyone remember the bank cafeteria on the 6th floor that had free food for employees?

    I am now working for another savings bank which began in 1872. It is a small community bank in Orange County, N.Y. that still uses passbooks. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

    • Susan DeMark

      Tom,

      How great that you worked at Bowery Savings in the 1970s. It must have been great to work there as a high schooler. I would have been awestruck at the beautiful surroundings (especially considering that the banks I knew in our towns in Western Pennsylvania were a lot less grand). Such a wonderful setting!

      And free food for employees in the bank cafeteria? Outstanding.

      As for your reference to your bank in Orange County today, I can see the draw of using passbooks and saving one’s hard-earned money at a small community bank. People have been drawn to community banks more as they have felt some of the big banks become less trustworthy.

      Thanks for sharing your Bowery Savings Bank memories!

      Susan

    • Kathryn Olsen

      You came on board at the Bank when the cafeteria was a shell of its former glory. I am searching in vain through my dad’s old employee magazines (“The Chest”) to see if I can find a picture of the ‘cafeteria’ as it was in the ’40′s, ’50′s or ’60′s. It was fine dining — pure plain and simple! If I do find something, I will try to see if someone can post the pictures.

      I do have a coffee and creamer (silver) that were used toward the end of the Bowery’s glory days. When they were modernizing the bank, they were literally throwing the stuff away. I also have an individual butter dish that was given in 1968 to each employee, its officers, and trustees to commemorate the bank’s $3 billion in assets.

  • Nancy Flores Vargas

    I worked there for one year in 1985. It was a great place to work in. I remember my old boss Joseph Parra, Esq. He was wonderful. Whatever happened to the real estate department on the 9th floor?

    • Susan DeMark

      Nancy,

      Thanks for sharing your recollections. A good boss is a great blessing, in my view.

      You worked there at the time that a group of investors bought the bank in hopes of rescuing it, with the help of federal aid and support. They then sold it at a handsome profit less than two years later.

      Perhaps someone will come forward who recalls what happened to the real estate department. Did you work on the 9th floor and in the real estate department?

      Susan

      • Nancy Flores Vargas

        Yes, I did, with wonderful people.

        • Susan DeMark

          Wonderful. That must have been quite an interesting time to be at the bank, and in that beautiful setting. I try to picture what it would be like coming to work each day at such an amazing building.

          Perhaps we will hear at some point from other former employees of that department.

          Thanks, Nancy!

          Susan

          • ERica Sosa

            Susan,

            Hello, I’m an Architecture student from Argentina. I attend the University of Buenos Aires. Im doing research about the Bowery Savings Bank, located at 110 East 42nd Street at Midtown Manhattan for the Introduction to Historic Preservation subject. I´m having trouble in finding any useful material about the building.

            In the libraries I have access to here in Buenos Aires there´s no information. I would really appreciate if you could redirect me to a Web site or help me in any way you can. The work focuses on how the building changed over the years, I have lots of pictures at the time it was built, and a PDF file of the time it turned a city landmark in 1996. The material I need for this work are actual photographs from the inside showing the contrast with the original building and of course the information.

            I´m looking for technical information on how the building changed over the years. Not only the function, which I know the basics, but the constructive aspects. Did it have originally AC? If not, where is the installation? The elevators are the original? What are nowadays the upper levels function? Any material had to be replaced? Does it have any structural change? Stuff like that.

            It´s really difficult to get this information here in Buenos Aires. That´s the reason I have to ask for your help. Anything can help, maybe there´s a book in PDF, an article; any piece of information regarding this issue would be really helpful.

            I have chosen this building because there is a bank here in Buenos Aires designed by York and Sawyer as well, and I´m doing the same research on this building — which, of course, I have several materials to work with the Bank of Boston.

            I thank you again.

  • Kathryn Olsen

    I grew up in this bank. My father worked at that bank for over 40 years. He was the president of the employees’ club and was well respected and loved by all his fellow employees, including the chairman of the board — and there were a few of them along the way.

    Each year, my dad would have the children’s Christmas party in the main branch building. Dad made sure that the children would be entertained by the stars of the day — Punch and Judy; Zippy, and of course, Santa Claus (I also knew Dad was Santa). As I got older, I, along with my sister, Marguerite, would help stack the gifts for each of the branches (the bank had since grown with satellite locations) on the ‘tables’ where during the week depositors would fill out their deposit or withdrawal slips.

    The Bowery Bank is more than just a building for me. It holds wonderful memories of a second family. We not only had children’s Christmas parties at that bank, but as a young girl, I would help fill plastic bags of goodies for over 14 nursing homes and its residents in my dad’s office on the 8th floor. I would always remember the mimeograph running with sheets and sheets of green paper. Printed on those sheets were the words “Merry Christmas from the employees of the Bowery Savings Bank.” We also enjoyed twilight picnics and all-day picnics at Platzl Brauhouse in Pomona, New York. Dad would conduct egg throwing contests; pie eating contests; sack races; softball games; and so much more.

    The Bowery Bank and its employees from the late 40′s; 50′s, 60′s and early 70′s had a code of love and respect for everyone who walked through the magnificent arched opening, It respected its workers and their families. Back in those days, banking laws prohibited employees from leaving the bank during banking hours. The employees were required to eat their lunch in the ‘cafeteria’ of the bank. But this wasn’t just any cafeteria, it was magnificent. Fine crisp linens and cloth napkins dressed each table; sparkling silver containers were placed at each table for cream and sugar; lovely china adorned each place setting and waitresses (employees of the bank) dressed in crisp uniforms would take our order, and they had the best ‘chef’ in the world.

    It was a wonderful place and I am sad it is not a bank anymore, but I am grateful to the new owners for preserving the spirit of that bank and its architecture. I am so happy that they tried to preserve the teller stations and the deposit tables. Thanks for the memories. I am going to search through my old paperwork to see if I can find any copies of their employee booklet called “The Chest” just to relive those wonderful times.

    The restaurant my sister is referring to wasn’t on 42nd Street, but rather around the corner on 41st Street. Marguerite was correct in that the restaurant’s name was “The President,” but it was on the back of the building on the 41st Street side.

  • Michael C. Kaplan

    My first full-time job was in April 1970 at the Bowery Savings Bank’s 42nd Street branch. I was only 18 then. Now some 40 years later and retired, I step into Cipriani and the memories of having worked there all come back to me. What a caring and concerned organization towards its employees was The Bowery Savings Bank. What nice people to work under and work with. You don’t realize this until you are in an organization where you need a union to fight to get your benefits and protect your rights as an individual off the job. I read all these comments, and am proud and thankful to have worked for this organization.

    • Susan DeMark

      Michael,

      The Bowery Savings Bank had to be one very special place to work, as your testament and others’ show. Thank you for your eloquent comments. It really shows that a place of employment can have a certain caring and respectful stance toward its employees, and how much of a difference that makes. You put it all in perspective in your response. I’m glad for you that you had such an important and positive experience at the Bowery Savings Bank. I’m sure that means so much as time goes on!

      Warm regards,
      Susan

  • Ed Murray

    I worked at BSB from 1961 to 1969 in the Mortgage Department. I think the restaurant was called Cozy something. I remember you had go into the terminal to use the bathrooms. What department did your father work? I probably knew him.

  • Ed Murray

    To Kathy Olsen – was your father’s name Charlie?

    • Kathryn O.

      Yes and No. His real name was Amadeo, but no one could pronounce it so they nicknamed my Dad “Big Charlie.” Did you work at the 42nd Street location?

      Kathy Olsen

  • Ed Murray

    Yes, I knew your father. I enjoyed all those great parties. I was lucky to make work the next day.

    • Kathryn O

      Oh my goodness, you knew my Dad? Then, I must have met you. Did you have children who attended the Christmas parties at 42nd Street? Did you go to any of the twilight picnics or the big picnic in August at Platzl Brauhaus in Pomona, NY. I have a ton of Chest magazines — did you ever appear in any of the issues? I have them dating back to the late ’30′s – and up to the end when my Dad retired. Wow, what a small world :)

  • Ed Murray

    Yes, I went to Platzi Brauhaus many times. The best parties were at the hotels because I was single. Do you know someone with last name Montelleone?

    • Kathryn Olsen

      No, I am sorry I do not recall that name. I am glad you got to partake at the parties at the bank; my father so loved organizing them and getting his fellow employees to become part of the Bowery family. I was a young girl in the early 60′s and loved going to Platzl Brauhaus because of that humongous swimming pool and all the green, green grass, plus we were able to go on those wonderful big buses (my sister and I) and we always felt “so grown up.” LOL

      My father passed away some years ago, and in a way I am glad he didn’t live to see how the bank was fragmented and ultimately sold. However, I do think he would have enjoyed the fact that it is now a hall specifically designed for “happy occasions.” My dad so loved the Bowery and its people and never ever felt he was “going to work.” He made work a party event every day and helped shape me to think of going to work as a fun-filled experience and for that I am most grateful.

      When I returned to the bank on 42nd Street a few years after his passing, the only people who were still there that I remembered were Tommy Cleary; Gloria Deegan, the Chairman of the Board’s assistant; Rudy Marino, who became the branch manager at the 42nd Street location; and Ann Meany, who worked in the bank’s somewhat downsized cafeteria. Again, I thank you so much for responding to me and I know somewhere up there my Dad is smiling. :)

      If I may be so bold — I would like to ask: where are you living now? Are you still in New York? If I am being too nosy, I apologize, but I thank you again for remembering my Dad and his efforts to help, in some small way, make this world a better place.

      Best regards.
      Kathy O.

  • Ron McKiernan

    I believe my great-grandfather worked at the Bowery Savings Bank around 1910. If the bank has any employee records of that time, who would I contact?

  • Ed Murray

    After I left BSB in 1969, I got a job as a beer salesman for 25 years. I moved from the Bronx to Hasbrouck Heights, N.J. I was friends with Rudy and his secretary, Roseanne. I also remember Ann Meany.

  • Kathryn Olsen

    Acck, I got knocked off. I am so glad you knew the folks I mentioned. I used to tease Ann Meany about her last name because it belied her sweet disposition; Rudy always spoke highly of my Dad and I just remember that wonderful head of hair he was blessed to have on the top of his head.

    I am sorry I don’t recall Rudy’s secretary, Roseanne. If you can share a memory that you have of my Dad at one of the events he helped organize, I would love to hear about it. Thank you again for this wonderful walk down memory lane.

    Kathy O.

    • Ed Murray

      I loved Rudy’s hair, too. Did you know he was opera-trained? He sang at the Christmas party. I am just learning Facebook. I have found five people I worked with.

      • Kathryn Olsen

        It’s funny that you mention Rudy’s wonderful singing voice; I was going to include that in my original comments about him, but decided to highlight (no pun intended) his wonderful shock of hair. Dad once commented to me that Rudy had a “Caruso-esque” voice. I am happy you are finding folks with whom you worked and I so enjoy knowing someone from my past who remembers my Bowery-bank family.

        Kathy O.

        • Ed Murray

          Hi Kathy,

          Just found another employee who knew your Father – Al Kiley…he worked there 30 years.

          • Kathy O

            That name sounds awfully familiar. Do you know what department he worked in? My dad (Big Charlie) would have loved this blog and would be typing notes all over the place. In a way, I think he is ‘through me’. My dad never really sought fame — he much preferred to just get ‘to it to do it.’

            I have a wonderful caricature of my Dad from the bank’s retirement party for him and whoever did that caricature truly captured his gleaming eyes. It was framed with glass ‘double sided’ for all the signatures that appeared on it. It is my most cherished tangible possession of him. My other cherished possessions of my Dad are simply his goodness (sigh), and they live in my heart and soul.
            Do you have another Web site where other former employees dwell? If so, could you share it?

            Thanks
            Kathy O.

          • Susan DeMark

            Ed and Kathy,

            Thank you both for continuing to bring your recollections of the Bowery Savings Bank here. Kathy, the caricature of your dad that the employees did at his retirement party sounds priceless — as are your memories and what you carry of your father’s kindness and goodness.

            I’m wondering if one of the former Bowery Savings bank employees — or a couple, perhaps — should set up a Facebook page as another “gathering place” for people to connect and share their recollections of (and publications from) such a special place to work and make friends.

            Again, whatever I can do here to connect people from the Bowery Savings Bank, I am happy to do. In a world where company loyalty seems to be rarer, this was indeed a one-of-a-kind place.

            Susan

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  • Dorothy E Christy

    Hi Susan,

    It’s been so nice reading the responses you have been receiving from former Bowery Savings Bank employees….I remember when I first read your article about the 42st Street branch. It was so well-written and captured the interior of the bank like nothing I have read before or after.

    It seems you created quite a following ….THE DOT

    • Susan DeMark

      Hi, Dorothy (“The Dot”),

      I’m so happy to hear from you again! Yes, aren’t the responses of the Bowery Savings Bank’s employees remarkable? I attribute that to how special the institution itself must have been — it’s evident in the way people talk about it. If I have been able to support and spark that more with this article about the magnificent building and its history, that’s great.

      Thank you for your generous comments, and I wish you a lovely start of spring.

      Susan

    • Ed Murray

      Hi Dorothy:

      I worked at BSB 42nd St from 1961 to 1969 in the mortgage department. Where did you work?

    • Ed Murray

      Hi Dorothy,

      I worked at the BSB from 1961 to 1969 in the mortgage department. I used to eat lunch with tellers George Hemmington and Ed McKenna.

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