Monday, December 1, 2014

money like water

Everyday ClockTowerTenants walk past this Chase Building on the way to the 6 train, but do you know much about its history?

It was designed by architect Albert E. Davis and built in 1912, originally as the North Side Board of Trade.

We think of SoBro as “south” but more than a century ago it was north of all that mattered, so back then we’d be living on the north side.

Davis was a local guy in 1894, living on East 138th Street when people were flocking to our neighborhood.

A 2 or 3 story house in Manhattan had skyrocketed to $75 a month, but a similar home here could cost less than 60 bucks.

So in 1901, architect Davis ran for president of the NorthSide Board and hailed our hood as the next area for industrial growth: 

He was right, of course. 
And he wrote a book to prove it.

Plus, he proposed a headquarters to foster this development, designing our Venetian Renaissance palazzo columned in white terracotta.

To support manufacture:

And local commerce: 

Okay, but how did CHASE come into the picture?

CHASE purchased The Manhattan Company founded in 1799 by Aaron Burr, (who killed Alexander Hamilton in a duel) ostensibly to bring clean water to Manhattan but actually to disguise the formation of the “Chase Manhattan Bank”.

At the turn of the nineteenth century obtaining a bank charter required an act of the state legislature, so this was all just a front to avoid pesky charter regulations.

CHASE’s logo is actually a cross section of four beveled planks nailed together to form a wooden, colonial water pipe, a reference to the Manhattan Company’s roots.

Eventually, the Northside Board of Trade became the North Side Savings Bank, which became Dollar Dry Dock, which became Chase.

With the bank founded and underway they didn't need the waterworks subterfuge anymore, so they sold it off for $1.9 million in 1808 and turned completely to banking.

CHASE bought JP Morgan in 2000 and today it is the largest bank in America with $2.5 trillion under its control. 

They still use that same logo.

And they still reflect their history here by keeping an active branch near our ClockTower.

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