Boom Banking

PrintPrintEmailEmailWhen the Bowery Savings Bank joined the rush to crowded midtown after World War I, it had to make do with the ground floor of an office building on Forty-second Street. But York and Sawyer were not defeated by the constraint; the architects produced, in 1923, a formidable Romanesque-Byzantine banking room whose sumptuous furnishings were as functional as they were decorative. All this splendor was in the service of a new style of banking based on speed and efficiency in taking care of a new clientele —those savers who stood in line at tellers’ windows with their deposit books in hand. The Bowery had moved to its uptown site because commuter trains, subways, and a Third Avenue El spur converged here, and with them two sources of customers: the old carriage trade that had begun to settle in the suburbs and workers drawn to the area’s new offices. Old money or fledgling money, the basilica-like banking room welcomed every depositor with a grandeur to match the grandest ambitions.