Angry bank depositors gather outside of the Bank of the United States on Delancey Street in the rain, 1930. Image via Wikimedia Commons from Library of Congress.
On this day in history, December 11th, 1930, the Bank of the United States failed. At the time, it was the twenty-eighth largest commercial bank in the US but played a major role in the “narrative of the economic downswing of 1929-1933,” according to the Journal of Money, Credit and Banking. Although the bank, located at on 77 Delancey Street, had an official sounding name, the bank held no ties with the US government. Under the assumption that this was a national bank, many immigrants who lived nearby in the Lower East Side deposited their meager earnings in this bank. This bank didn’t have the safest of transactions, and the bankers weren’t very honest.
The night before the closing, there was a late night conference with several New York bankers to try and save this bank. They arranged that the head of a smaller but safer bank in New York would take over the Bank of the US. However, upon looking at the mess of transactions the US bank was in the middle of, the smaller bank declined to take over. In fact, no other bank in New York was willing to take over such tangled transactions. The news came out the next morning that the US bank would be closed for good.
Today, The Grey Lady Restaurant stands at the Bank’s old address. We hope that they have a different fate than their predecessor.