The banks were made of marble

Greater NY Savings BankFinance may be ascendant in NYC, but plenty of once-grand bank buildings are now repurposed as retail stores, fitness centers and (of course) luxury condos.  Here’s a small sample gathered from some recent Brooklyn runs, along with whatever information I was able to dig up about the history of each institution and location.

I like to think that the stories of these buildings, combined, help tell a bigger story about financial consolidation. The plot of that bigger story careens from one financial crisis to the next, with a hot redlining subplot, all set against a backdrop of Brooklyn’s decline as a manufacturing center and growth as a lifestyle brand.

I don’t pretend to do justice to that story here, just to hint at it.

(One acknowledgement that absolutely must go up front: as I was working on this post, I quickly discovered  that Kevin Walsh’s “Forgotten New York” blog has visited most, if not all, of these same sites – and many others as well. If you aren’t already familiar with FNY, and you have even a smidgen of interest in the social, economic and architectural history of Brooklyn and New York City, then you owe it to yourself to check it out.) Continue reading

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