But beginning in 1923, the building at this address served as the midtown branch of the Bowery Savings Bank.
On a street packed with lovely, innovative buildings, this one is worth a long look.
With its Romanesque arches and pillars, it’s a true cathedral of commerce.
They’re endlessly fascinating. Two grotesques face each other over a doorway: one carries a sack of money, the other has his hand out. Beehives and squirrels with nuts signal savings.
One carving depicts a woman holding an open jewelry box. Another has a man holding a sailing ship.
Some of the carvings are pretty bizarre. Along an entrance, a rat bites the foot of a man holding a beehive; in another image, a dead rat hangs from a rope. What’s this about?
The bull “symbolizes determination and reliability, the keys, guardianship, and the cornucopia, harvest and abundance,” states Marcantonio Architects blog.
“There also seems to be a native quality to the feathered leaves and the braided rope holding them together.”
Collectively, the images “convey lightheartedness through the details which are teeming with life and imagination, and, in light of recent events in the world of finance, a touch of irony as well,” the blog continues.
Above the entrance is the bank’s very old-school, humble motto: “A mutual institution chartered 1834 to serve those who save.”
Sounds very quaint to contemporary ears used to thinking of banks as agents of corruption.
Tags: architectural motifs on banks, bank building motifs, Bowery Savings Bank 42nd Street, Bowery Savings Bank building, Cipriani's 42nd Street, defunct banks New York, grotesques and motifs bank buildings, old bank buildings New York