One of my earliest memories of midtown Manhattan as a little boy, besides obvious things like the Empire State Building, was the glass bank building at Fifth Avenue and 43rd Street. I most keenly remembered the safe deposit vault at street level, that used to be opened during business hours.
As I grew up, it remained in my mind as the essential image of what a bank ought to be. When I was a young man, it was a Manufacturers Hanover, which got swallowed by Chemical, which then got swallowed by Chase. The ATM lobby was added as the machines came into use. I don’t remember exactly when they stopped opening the vault during business hours, but it hasn’t been opened in a while.
It was pretty clear that the sleek, modern bank building had become an anachronism: a horrific waste of value to have a four-story building in midtown Manhattan. It became clear that the end was near when Chase set up a new branch in an office building one block north.
Today was the last business day at the glass bank. I don’t know what will happen next: perhaps some other bank will set up there, but I rather doubt it.