The Solidity and Stature of NYC’s Central Savings Bank | Waccabuc Real Estate

Welcome back to Curbed Classics, a column in which writer Lisa Santoro traces the history of a classic New York City building. Have a building to nominate for a future installment? Please suggest it to the tipline.


Banking and commerce are integral to the city’s livelihood, so it’s no wonder that New York City’s banking institutions are designed to look important. This is certainly the case with Central Savings Bank, which stands out even among the noteworthy classical structures that are its neighbors. The building is easily accessible to the public and warrants a closer look.

The Central Savings Bank (currently Apple Bank), located at 2100-2108 Broadway at West 73rd Street, was built between 1926 and 1928 by the architecture firm of York & Sawyer. The bank had been founded in 1859 and was originally known as The German Savings Bank in the City of New York, with its first location inside the Cooper Union building. Just five years later, in 1864, the bank would move a bit uptown to Fourth Avenue and 14th Street, eventually occupying a new bank building that was constructed in 1872. Decades later, during World War I, the bank changed its name to “Central Savings Bank.” Though the name change may have been due to anti-German sentiment, the bank continued to flourish and the trustees banked (sorry) on the Upper West Side’s business and residential development and chose to open an uptown branch.

CSBold_8_13.jpg [The Central Savings Bank, via NYC-architecture.]

York and Sawyer was an obvious choice for the new building. In addition to both working for the prolific firm of McKim, Mead and White, York and Sawyer were experienced in designing other noteworthy banking institutions, such as the Federal Reserve Bank of New York on Liberty Street and the Bowery Savings Bank on 42nd Street. The Central Savings Bank commission would be especially stately given its unique location atop a trapezoidal lot adjacent to Verdi Square. With the latitude to design a building free from the confines of adjacent structures, and complemented by nearby open space, the designers were able to create a unique, iconic structure.

CSBdoor_8_13.jpgThat structure was a six-story freestanding building designed in the style of an Italian Renaissance palazzo. Constructed of rusticated limestone, the building was adorned with decoration that would in fact be very fitting for a palazzo. This included the two lions surrounding the clock above the main entrance, cartouches featuring the heads of classical figures and shields containing the caduceus motif&151;two snakes ensnarled around a staff—which has become the modern symbol of commerce and negotiation. In addition, the exterior features stunning wrought iron doors, gates, grilles and lanterns designed by Samuel Yellin, considered the country’s master iron craftsman during the 1920s. The building is still not as highly decorated and elaborate as its Parisian-inspired neighbors to the south, the Ansonia and the Dorilton, but is instead serious and refined.





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