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Apple Bank History: Celebrating 150 Years of Banking in New York

Apple Bank today is comprised of various financial institutions that merged over a long period of time. The founding bank, the Harlem Savings Bank, was originally chartered in 1863. The financial reforms and modernization brought about by the Civil War encouraged the formation of many new banks at that time. Over the years, many of these institutions closed or were absorbed by other banks. Apple remains one of the few banks in business today that can trace its roots back to the Civil War era.

The story begins in the prosperous village of Harlem, New York. A group of gentlemen interested in assisting the local community successfully received approval to charter the Harlem Savings Bank on April 17, 1863. The next day, in a tavern known as the Rosenbourgh Harlem Bridge House (owned by one of the first trustees), the men finalized plans to establish the Bank, and opened the doors for business on June 8, 1863, at 1948 Third Avenue, between 125th and 126th Streets. Surrounding the building were working farms and open, undeveloped lots. Cable cars carried travelers across this mostly undeveloped area.

On August 9, 1858, at the other end of the city, the German Savings Bank, Apple's second founding partner, opened for business at 4th Avenue and 8th Street. Daniel F. Tiemann, mayor of the City of New York at the time, was a charter member of the Bank. From 1859 to 1864, the sole branch operated in the then brand-new Cooper Union building - one of the city's most revered landmarks and the site of Abraham Lincoln's New York debut in the Presidential campaign of 1860. The bank moved to a newly constructed hotel known as the Napier House at the corner of 14th Street and 4th Avenue in March of 1864.

As the Bank's business prospered, a permanent structure was built on the landmark site in 1872. As World War I drew to a close in 1918, the name of the bank was change to “Central Savings Bank”. A temporary location at 77th Street and Broadway served as the Bank's uptown branch from 1924 until December of 1928, when the permanent branch structure was completed. Designed by the architectural firm York and Sawyer, the Westside location, between 73rd and 74th Street, served as Central Savings Bank's headquarters. It is still the flagship branch of the bank and is now designated as an historic landmark.

Business prospered for both institutions despite financial panic, several wars, the Great Depression and many transitions in the banking industry. During the years of growth and prosperity for the country, both Harlem Savings Bank and Central Savings Bank succeeded because they offered financial service designed to closely suit the needs of their local neighborhoods and communities. Until 1932, Harlem Savings Bank provided financial services to the residents and businesses of uptown New York from its original location. It then acquired the two branches of Commonwealth Savings Bank located at 157th Street and 180th Street, thus broadening its service area further north. The Bank's financial strength enabled it to make this acquisition in the depth of the Depression, when many other banks were on the brink of insolvency. As time passed new branches were opened and the Harlem Savings Bank expanded into midtown and Long Island, as did Central Savings Bank.

Financial regulation and an unprecedented increase in interest rates negatively impacted many banks in the late 1970's and early 1980's. Harlem Savings Bank, which had carefully maintained its liquidity, doubled its size overnight from eight branches to 16 by acquiring Central Savings Bank, which was experiencing difficulty. Subsequently, Bank management realized that the name of the organization no longer accurately reflected its geographic reach. The new, larger Harlem Savings Bank, while still a strong neighborhood bank, was no longer concentrated in one area as the name suggested. In May of 1983, "Apple Bank for Savings" became the Bank's new name.

Apple Bank continued its growth strategy, and in 1986 merged with Eastern Savings Bank, thus adding seven more branches in the Bronx and Westchester. Eastern, whose history could be traced back to the early 1900's, was founded as the Bronx Savings Bank. Original murals found in Apple's Westchester Square branch office depict historic scenes of Jonas Bronck signing treaties for the purchase of the land now comprising Bronx County.

The next major acquisition occurred in the winter of 1989, as Sag Harbor Savings Bank, with five branches serving eastern Long Island, became part of Apple's expanding branch network. This merger significantly strengthened Apple's market position in Suffolk County. Sag Harbor Savings was organized in April of 1860. Residents of Sag Harbor and East Hampton owned and operated sailing vessels out of the port of Sag Harbor participating in the lucrative whaling industry. As business prospered, the community's influential merchants and businessmen saw the need to create a financial organization that would provide very necessary banking services. The bank opened its doors for business on June 7, 1860.

Since the mid 1990s, the bank has continued to expand in the greater New York area through new branch openings and acquisitions. On Saturday, April 20, 2013, Apple Bank acquired 29 branches and the related deposit accounts and services from Emigrant Savings Bank, another local bank that was founded in 1850. This acquisition has significantly expanded our services in our existing footprint of the five boroughs of New York City, Long Island and Westchester County. Both new and acquired customers now enjoy greater access and convenience with the ability to bank at any of our 76 branch locations throughout greater New York.

As the nature of commerce has changed, so has Apple Bank's profile of key services, but without losing sight of its original objective of supporting the unique financial needs of local communities. While other banks have withdrawn from neighborhood branch banking, Apple has continued to expand in those neighborhoods that others have ignored. Most importantly, as other institutions have suffered much hardship since late 2008, Apple Bank remains one of the most conservatively managed and strongest banks in the nation.

We have worked hard since 1863 to meet the financial needs of our personal and business customers and communities. As we celebrate over 150 years of serving our New York communities, we plan to continue to provide neighborhood branch banking for many years to come.

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