Jabba The Banks

Have you ever noticed how many banks we have to choose from in our little downtown area of Greenpoint, Brooklyn? South of Greenpoint Avenue, on Manhattan Avenue, our banking options seem limitless: HSBC, Citibank, Bank of America, Dime, Capital One, Chase, Apple, and now, TD Bank.


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For the average non-homeowner with a steady paycheck the levels in service don’t differ much from the green bank to the red bank. For homeowners, it’s usually a matter of a quarter percentage savings on the interest of their mortgage. Options are good, but I don’t think that they need to take up so much physical space from the downtown centers of New York City neighborhoods. It’s not like my account is physically there; most banking is done online. And let’s face it, banks are basically big empty spaces used as a public relation tool by an industry that can more easily afford centralized real estate than anyone else. And they are in need of public relations.

I know you hate the newest ugly condo building in the neighborhood, me too, they’re ugly and already falling apart, but this outdoor mall of banks isn’t any better.

It’s worse if you take into consideration the business practices of these financial institutions. If you managed to ignore all of the financial news from the past six months, it’s a long list of most of these banks’ criminal actions coming to light. I don’t doubt your experience of physically cashing a check at Bank of America is nice but at least know that it’s also one of the companies that illegally and unfairly foreclosed on half a million homeowners in the past few years and have agreed to collectively pay between $8-$32 billion to settle the complaints lodged against them.

Settlements, not admissions of guilt, where not a single employee gets charged with a single crime. I realize that the banks provide jobs to a few local residents, like HSBC, just up the block, but keep in mind that they’re also the official money launderers to Mexico’s biggest drug cartel. They’re paying $2 billion for that one.

Dime Bank, which you might think is a smaller, local bank is actually now owned by J.P. Morgan Chase which is part of the Citibank, B of A, Wells Fargo group that were keeping over 400,000 families from being able to stay in their own homes based on false information about their mortgages.

To the one local financial enterprise on Manhattan Avenue, vaguely named, Trade Wall Street, this place has been recently shut down because of it’s own corrupt practices. The owner, Roman Sledziejowski, who is notable in the community for catering to Polish nationals, was accused last week by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) of defrauding three clients of more than $4 million. According to the complaint, between 2009 and 2012, he had allegedly instructed his clients to wire funds to a separate holding company he owned under the pretense that he would be putting it into a Polish bank and the stock of a Polish vodka maker. However, according to the complaint, no such investments were made.

In the mean time, Capital One is paying off their own federal charges because they were caught charging their own customers for add-on protections on their money that they were lawfully supposed to be doing already.

This is less than half of those nine worded New York Times article headlines you almost clicked on since last summer but didn’t because you were sick of hearing about the neglect from all the reckless banking policies from the past ten years. I’m not suggesting that we go burn all the banks down, I’m just saying, they have taken over our city landscape not because they want to badly help manage your comparatively miniscule savings. They are there to bring some local flavor, local employees and an experience that couldn’t be more opposite with how they behave collectively as a multi-national ponzi scheme.

Architecturally speaking, these storefronts are a chromatic eyesore and I would just like a few more people who live in Greenpoint to consider that maybe we should require some kind of ethical background check on who not only saturates our heaviest areas of commerce and foot traffic, but decreases the ability for independent store owners to survive on the Avenue. Wouldn’t you rather see a local shop, a community center, a few more restaurants or anything in place of a false corporate identity that smiles and greets you at the ATM machine while literally stealing your fellow citizen’s homes, pensions or savings, charging you for fake products and laundering money for international terrorist organizations?

About Brooklyn Imbecile

I've been wandering around Greenpoint for a decade taking pictures of random shit. Yup, that's about it.

29 Comments

  1. cp says:

    Please dont forget https://en.psfcu.com/ – the polish federal credit union, staring you right in the face on McGuiness and Greenpoint Avenue.

    It is a local bank.

    Please do your research before writing.

    Reply
    • Jen G says:

      I am sure he is well aware of the credit union. He was focusing on the plethora on Manhattan Ave.

      Reply
    • The point of the article wasn’t to demonstrate my ability to find every single place to keep your money in Greenpoint. The point was to discuss the omnipresence of banks in our community.

      Please understand the point before commenting.

      Reply
    • Sherry says:

      Good point. It fits Brooklyn Imbecile’s two needs: its architecture is interesting, to say the least, and it hasn’t been accused of effing people over with their money.

      Though if you want outstanding architecture, look at the Greenpoint Savings Bank. Never moving my money out of that baby.

      Reply
  2. Jen G says:

    BK Imb, can you please do one on all the rite aids and other pharmacies… it’s almost as insane!

    Reply
    • People who do their banking and buy their drug store goods from gigantic corporate powerhouses think they are just getting a better deal, but they are in fact, helping the process of turning their neighborhoods into unaffordable, identical outdoor strip malls lacking any unique, local presence.

      Those who complain about young, non-natives and real estate developers invading their neighborhoods, who also shop at mega-chain stores are actually causing more harm than anyone to the fading originality of their avenues.

      Reply
      • Sherry says:

        I like getting 20% off at Rite Aid. And if Rite Aid weren’t there, I’d be using Amazon.com. (Hashtag: corporatewhore)

        Reply
        • Jen G says:

          I just got yelled at. In reality of course supporting the small local businesses is better – even pharmacies. But – they sell a lot of the same shit. Right? Tampax Tampons are Tampax Tampons. And Rite-Aid is also hiring a lot of local people, too.

          Reply
        • Sherry says:

          The Rite Aid by Peter Pan used to be a Genovese (and earlier still, the Meserole), which was purchased by Eckerd and then was purchased by Rite Aid. The one by Dee Dee’s was always a Rite Aid.

          The one in the old movie theater must be doing good business for the company to keep both locations open.

          Reply
    • T says:

      Amen! I was incredibly disappointed once I noticed that they were renovating that beautiful building on Manhattan for a CVS. Ugg! Why is that remotely necessary when we have TWO rite aids and a duane reade within easy walking distance of each other? Not to mention many non chain pharmacies. Ridiculous.

      Reply
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  4. Jen G says:

    i do like the organic ones though.

    Reply
  5. How about this:

    You continue to shop and bank and do business with these mega-corporations. It’s your right to do so, no one is stopping you. But can you at least admit that you understand that if you only spend your money with non-local businesses, you won’t be surprised when there are no local businesses left?

    More importantly, that you don’t blame anyone but yourself for your neighborhood’s loss of identity, because you want to save XX% on your ATM fees or cotton swabs.

    Admit that you understand that real estate values will go up when mega-stores offer to pay any amount to absorb the local market.

    Especially those who grew up here, who are always shitting a storm about how things used be. You’re willfully ruining your hood by turning Greenpoint into Walmart-land. More so than developers, hipsters, homeless people or whoever comes next to shift your blame onto.

    Reply
    • Sherry says:

      I’m being a bad Greenpointer by shopping at the same drugstore I’ve always shopped at while taking advantage of its new-ish rewards program and by keeping my money in a bank it’s always been in thanks to my grandmother setting up a college-fund account.

      Also, your comment may be the first one to include the word “hipster” since the “Die Hipster” post. Kudos!

      Reply
  6. I-) says:

    i agree with Sherry – the banks with the best architecture are the best. that has not failed me yet, and i have banked all over.

    I-)

    Reply
    • The point of the article was to try and have people wrap their head around the fact that your bank has in fact failed you. Not that they lost your money, but there’s a lot of factors to consider in addition to your personal wealth management, as stated above. To say that your specific bank hasn’t failed you while being conscious of all that’s been going on in the industry is an ignorant stance. It’s a common stance and it demonstrates an inability to question the status quo. Some of the most beautiful architecture in the world houses protected child rapists from ever going to trial.

      Reply
      • Sherry says:

        What’s the going interest to keep your money in a mattress?

        Reply
        • I made $37 in interest with my savings from last year. Yes, minuscule, I know. I’d happily trade that cash in for one less bank on Manhattan Avenue.

          Obviously this is the wrong forum to get philosophical about our surroundings. I was attempting to have a conversation that goes beyond our own personal wad of savings. (waving white flag).

          Reply
  7. T says:

    I know it’s only a small step, but I just moved all my money from HSBC to Apple Bank, which is a lot smaller and (I think) only operates in NYC. Anyone heard anything about them that I need to know?

    I have friends that use them and the organization just seems a bit more responsible then many of the others.

    Plus, I couldn’t do business with HSBC after the drug case. Can you believe those executives get a slap on the wrist when your average person would be doing jail time for lesser crimes?

    Reply

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