The website www.banking.state.ny.us offers the following sequence in the history of the Bank of the Metropolis:
The entry for The Bank of the Metropolis in Moses King's Handbook of New York City (1892) reads in part, "The bank was organized in 1871, and commenced operations in June of that year. The first President was W. A. Kissam (who died in the same year), and the original place of business was 31 Union Square. A removal to 17 Union Square followed six years later, and in 1888 the bank took the more commodious quarters at 29 Union Square, which it now occupies."
Moses King's "more commodious quarters" of 1892 were located on the southwest corner of 16th St. The bank returned to its original location, 31 Union Square, on the northwest corner, with the present building in 1903.
The History and Commerce of New York, American Publishing and Engraving Co., 1891, gives these details of the bank at that time: "The banking rooms are very handsomely fitted up, and a staff of twenty-five clerks are employed. The president of the bank is Mr. Robert Schell, who has held this position since 1872. He is a native of New York."
The New Building permit filed with the New York City Dept. of Buildings (available at the Office for Metropolitan History, "Manhattan NB Database 1900-1986," (June 2009), http://www.MetroHistory.com) reads, "Year: 1901; DOB NB#: 1751; Cost: $500,000; Union sq, Nos 31, n w cor 16th st; 16-sty stone front office building, 32.6 x 175; Owner: Bank of the Metropolis, 29 Union sq; Architect: Bruce Price, 1133 Broadway / Geo A Fuller Co, 135 Broadway."
The AIA Guide to New York, 4th ed. (2000), by Norval White and Elliot Willensky says, "An early and unwitting sliver building, this neo-Renaissance slab now houses a restaurant in its original banking rooms..."
The building is an officially designated New York City Landmark. New York City Landmarks, 4th ed. (2009), with text by Andrew S. Dolkart and Matthew A. Postal, reads, "Bank of the Metropolis, 31 Union Square West (Bruce Price, 1902-03), designated 1988. Price was an important early skyscraper designer with a particular interest in adapting the tripartite form of the column to tall buildings. This neo-Renaissance limestone-faced example is clearly massed in Price's preferred base-shaft-capital manner. The Bank of the Metropolis, founded in 1871 to serve the needs of businesses in the Union Square area, maintained its offices on the square until 1918, when it was absorbed by the Bank of Manhattan."
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