Memory Lane: The Banks of Boro Park
It is a common observation in Boro Park of today that nearly every retail store on 13th Avenue that closes due to the exorbitant rent is soon replaced by a financial institution. Indeed, banks occupy an enormous amount of space on the retail thoroughfares of this town.
But today we take a tour around Boro Park of yore, visiting—photographically—these ancient buildings, all of which exist, and continue to serve in this capacity, to this day. The earliest one of these came into existence as early as 1907 (!), more than 110 years ago, and since that time has stood in silent witness as this neighborhood burgeoned and grew all around it—continuing to do so until this very day.
1-2: This building, at the corner of 55th Street and Thirteenth Avenue—with the train tracks of New Utrecht Avenue cutting diagonally in front of it—has served as the Boro Park branch of Citibank for as long as anyone can remember. But it was actually built as the Blythebourne Post Office in the year 1913, and cost $16,000 to construct. The post office subsequently moved to the next block (13th Avenue bet. 55th and 56th Street) in the building that today serves as a Shul. This building then became “The National City Bank of New York,” which is today known as Citibank (as we see in photo #2).
3) 4410 13th Avenue is today occupied by HSBC. But in 1940, we find that it housed The Public National Bank and Trust Co.—an institution that subsequently merged with another bank, and is finally today under the Deutsche Bank umbrella.
4) The large imposing building at 6424 18th Avenue (the corner of 65th Street) has been Santander Bank, and its predecessor Independence Bank before that. Here we see it in 1940, virtually the same way it appears today.
5) Here we see the beautiful limestone building on the corner of 48th Street and Thirteenth Avenue. Today it houses Chase Bank, but in 1940—the year this photo was taken—it housed Bay Ridge Savings Bank, which also had a sister branch at 5thAvenue at 54th Street.