When Amadeo Giannini found established banks unwilling to take on his or farmers business he opened his own calling it The Bank of Italy in 1904 with $8700 in assets. Established to serve working class citizens, especially Italians living in the North Beach neighborhood, Giannini was adamant about helping establish local businesses.
Surviving the earthquake and fire of 1906, Giannini‘s Bank of Italy was one of the first to offer loans to businesses to help rebuild the city. Forced to run his bank from a plank across two barrels in the street for a time, Giannini made loans on a handshake to anyone who was interested in rebuilding. Years later, he would recount with pride that every single loan was repaid. Amadeo Giannini and the “Bank of Italy” were also the basis for the classic Capra movie American Madness. By 1909 The Bank of Italy began opening branches in other cities, an unheard of practice then. By 1918 there were 24 branches across California. It grew by this branch banking strategy to become the Bank of America, the world’s largest commercial bank with assets in the billions.
Bank of Italy’s are known for their striking architecture and ornate interiors of exquisite marble. Fresno is privileged to have one of those original 24 branches, all be it in desperate condition today. Even so, About Town Taste adventures check it out inside out. Dirt and dust reveal a hidden gem of beauty that sits awaiting the right person with the means to bring life to the old girl once again. Our next visit to the Fulton Mall with its world-class art and the Bank of Italy will be Saturday morning 4/2/11 @ 10a. Why not join us for an adventure of food, fun and history? Only $25pp inclusive. You need to contact the office to reserve so our restaurants can be prepared!
info@AboutTownTaste.com or 559.392.4471