Theses Master's

On Neighborhood Banks and Their Continued Relevance in the Urban Landscape

Wang, Zhaolin

Bank architecture represents a ubiquitous building typology in American cities. Within the urban context, neighborhood banks became markers of financial nodes where institutional and commercial structures gather. Within the present context, these bank buildings are increasingly exposed to threat because of changes in banking technology and practice, and because urban development and rising land values often lead to demolitions or significant alterations. Most of the surviving small-scale neighborhood banks are outside of historic districts and not landmarked; the combination of these factors induces urgency in addressing the case for their preservation. The thesis aims to provide a holistic picture of the significance and conditions of neighborhood banks built in Brooklyn between 1900 and 1935. Historically, the evolution of these structures is closely tied to the architectural and social development of Brooklyn; the genesis of the neighborhood banks directly corresponds to the expansion of the transportation system, as well as the growth of the residential and commercial development of the urban neighborhoods. The remaining physical fabrics of these historic neighborhood banks are still the identifiable symbols of the commercial centers of the local communities; the central locations and the wide range of reuse programs of these banks point to their relevance within the contemporary urban landscape. Available preservation mechanisms and the presence of community actions can be combined to ensure the continued survival of the historic neighborhood banks, so that they may be integrated into the future urban life of Brooklyn either as banks, retail, public or cultural institutions.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Historic Preservation
Thesis Advisors
Bollack, Fran├žoise
M.S., Columbia University
Published Here
June 24, 2019