landmarklearning

Jarmulowsky’s Bank

In Architecture, Historic Preservation, Immigration on January 13, 2010 at 8:49 pm

Jarmulowsky's Bank. Photograph. Municipal Archives.

About

Located at 54 Canal Street, this 12 story Classical-style bank was  built by architects Rouse & Goldstone for Sender Jarmulowsky in 1912.  Jarmulowsky established his banking business on the Lower East Side in 1873 and was operating at this location by 1878. Here, recent immigrants could set up bank accounts, send remittances, and buy steerage tickets for their European relatives – in Yiddish. The bank quickly became a household name among Jews on both sides of the ocean.

According to legend, Jarmulowsky added the capital to the top of the building so that it would be the tallest in the neighborhood. His original plan had not included this detail, but the Forward Building down the street on East Broadway went up simultaneously and was slightly taller than his bank prompting the architectural change. The bank become a testament to Jarmulowsky’s success as a businessman and reflected his prominence in the Jewish community of the Lower East Side.

Jarmulowsky died in 1912 shortly after the bank was completed, and his sons took over the business. unfortunately, they lacked their father’s business acumen and mismanaged the business.  In 1914, at the start of WWI, the bank closed as many depositors made “runs” on the bank to get money to help their families in Europe. According to the NY Times, 2,000 people demonstrated in front of the bank. 500 people stormed the house where son Meyer Jarmulowsky lived, forcing him to escape across tenement rooftops. Jarmulowsky sons were indicted for banking fraud and the bank closed.

The State of New York took over the bank in May 1917  and auctioned it off.

In 2009, Jarmulowsky’s Bank building was designated a landmark by the Landmarks Preservation Commission.


Discussion Questions

  • What can you tell about the building by looking at this photograph?
  • What makes a building a landmark?
  • Examine the detail of the building pictured below. What do you think the carved images symbolize?

Detail, Jarmulowsky's Bank. Photograph by Rachel Rabhan.


Classroom Extensions

  • Banks were critical centers for immigrants. Just as Jarmulowsky’s Bank served Jewish immigrants, Banca Stabile on Grand Street met the needs of the Italian immigrants.  Visit the website of the Italian American Museum located in the Banco Stabile building to learn more.  Compare and contrast the Jewish and Italian experience.
  • Read the NY Times article chronicling Jarmulowsky’s escape from a mob of angry depositors in 1914.
  • In 2009, Jarmulowsky’s Bank was designated a Landmark. Read the report and learn more about the building and landmarks process.  Discuss what makes a building worthy of landmark status. Have students research other buildings they think deserve landmark status and make the case for their designation.

54 Canal
Sender Jarmulowsky’s towering Classical-style bank, built in 1912, was a neighborhood
institution in the 1910s. Here, recent immigrants could set up bank accounts, send
remittances and buy steamship tickets for their European relatives. Just as Banca Stabile
on Grand Street met the needs of the Italian immigrants, Jarmulowsky’s bank became a
household name among Jews on both sides of the ocean. Jarmulowsky’s Bank closed in
1914, at the start of WWI, as many depositors made “runs” on the bank.
About these ads
  1. [...] is an advertisement encouraging Jewish immigrants to buy steerage tickets at Sender Jarmulowsky’s bank on the Lower East Side. Jarmulowsky began his passage and exchange business in Europe in 1868 [...]

  2. [...] at the posting of Sender Jarmulowsky’s Bank and of the steerage tickets purchased there to find out more about his business. ▶ 2 [...]

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