03 October 2008

Banks Haven't Changed Much

If you think the no-fault treatment being given today's Wall Street higher-ups is a new phenomenon, go to the southwest corner of Canal and Orchard Streets and stare up at the S. Jarmulovsky Bank Building, which amazingly still stands, given its history.

Sender Jarmulovsky, who began his career as a pushcart peddler, was a big local financier in the late 19th century. He founded his bank in 1873 and built this building as monument to his achievement in 1895. Banking regulations were pretty non-existent back then, so he did what he pleased, and immigrants showed their trust by putting their savings in the bank. But the outbreak of WWI precipitated a run on the bank, when depositors sought to withdraw money in order to help relatives overseas. This caused the institution to fail. There was a riot. Thousands of immigrants were ruined. Six committed suicided.

Sender Jarmulovsky received a suspended sentence. And so it goes.

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