The banker called the “East Side J.P. Morgan”

The Lower East Side was already a growing Eastern European neighborhood by the time Alexander “Sender” Jarmulowsky arrived in 1873.

Those immigrants needed a bank they could trust, one with connections to their homelands.

So Jarmulowsky, formerly a Talmudic scholar from Russia and now the wealthy owner of a shipping business, started one.

His eponymous bank, at Canal and Orchard Streets, was a huge success.

Jarmulowsky earned a rep as an honest businessman nicknamed the “East Side J.P. Morgan” who paid 100 percent on the dollar during the occasional bank run.

States the Museum at Eldridge Street: “As one Yiddish newspaper described him, ‘Jarmu-lowsky was living proof that in America one can be a rich businessman but also be a true, pious Jew.’”

The 12-story bank building at Canal and Orchard Streets he built in 1912 still stands today. Unfortunately Jarmulowsky never got to see it; he died that year. His sons took over, but they were more Bernie Madoff than J.P. Morgan.

When customers went to withdraw their money to send to relatives abroad during World War I, they found out their savings were gone.

The Jarmulowsky building was sold for $36 million earlier this year—way too late to benefit any of the account holders who lost their savings.

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13 Responses to “The banker called the “East Side J.P. Morgan””

  1. Lady G. Says:

    Lousy children seemed to have neither the respect or the ethics to run the business their hard working father built up. Their eyes where blinded by the greedy gilded age. Hope it bit them in the rear come 1929.

  2. wildnewyork Says:

    I wish I knew. It would be fitting.

  3. Upstate Ellen Says:

    Interesting story. I’d never heard of Sender Jarmulowsky. Out of curiosity, I checked Census records. I found that son Harry was a physician living with his parents in Manhattan in 1910. By 1920, he was married with children in Passaic, NJ, still practicing medicine.

    Son Meyer, listed as a banker in the 1910 Census, was married with two children and lived in Manhattan. I could not find the same family in 1920 or 1930. My guess is he changed his name.

    Son Louis was also listed as a banker in the 1910 Census. Unlike the others, he resided in the Bronx, with his wife Ida and 3 children. I found the family in Manhattan in the 1920 Census, but they had changed their last name to Jarmel. Louis was now a manager in a shirt factory, as he would be in 1930 as well.

  4. wildnewyork Says:

    Great research! There’s more to the story of the corrupt sons. Apparently when account holders realized they were wiped out, thousands held a rally outside the bank building, and 500 stormed Meyer Jarmulowsky’s house and forced him and his family to flee through a window. No wonder he changed his name….

  5. aidel Says:

    It is such a shame that there are a (not insignificant) number of Jews among the Wall Street criminals, which only fuels the flames of stereotypes and antisemitic hate. Apparently the government approves of big money crimes. Where are the regulations? Why aren’t the few that stand enforced? There is plenty of room for company at Maddoff’s new estate.

  6. Dave Says:

    Do we know they were corrupt? The other (brief, poorly sourced) links I read about them suggest that they may just have been felled by a bank run caused by panic occasioned by the start of WWI. A big enough run could kill any smallish bank back then.

  7. wildnewyork Says:

    The Tenement Museum blog has a nice writeup, with a link to a New York Times story from 1914. Corrupt may be too strong a word…but they were indicted for fraud by the US Government:

  8. Upstate Ellen Says:

    There’s even more information about the brothers and their descendants at the Tenement Museum blog. One of Meyer’s grandsons or a nephew (rather than “a third son,” as the blog states) ended up at Bellevue Psych Ward. Dr. Harry Jarmulowsky, seemingly the only one of Sender’s sons not involved in the scandal, died in 1947, according to the NY Times. Someone ought to write a book!

    • DV Says:

      I needed to write an article which tells the story of Mr. sender jarmulowsky I missed a lot of material about the personal and public life of Sender

      Any material you give me could promote me, also if you can refer me to people or other reservoirs.

      Thank you

  9. Big Sis Says:

    If someone could find out which synagogue(s) they were affiliated with, or with any of the Benevolent societies (“landsmanschaften”) I would like to know. Thanks.

  10. Jim Says:

    Here is Alexander’s Online Memorial for those interested.

    Alexander Online Memorial

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