Strolling along Fifth or Madison or Park – or just about any key Avenue in Midtown - it is apparent that every financial institution in the world seeks to locate on as many strategic and visible corners as possible (from Habib American Bank to Wells Fargo; from HSBC – which is the Hong Kong Shanghai Banking Corporation – to Citibank). From financial behemoths to minor players in the money markets, these banks want you to see them and use their ATMs. They occupy major intersections and large areas on the ground floors of important buildings. They want your money and they want to be seen.
Is this is a good thing? Should the proliferation of banking operations be halted? Are these retail uses – like stores and restaurants? Do they serve the public – and are they key uses which should be encouraged? Or, are they unappealing dead spaces which disrupt vital commercial corridors which should instead be predominately characterized by pedestrian-oriented, visually appealing uses? Is Madison Avenue harmed because the Bank of China and the Bank of America are competing for your business? Or, are ATMs and bank services vital to New Yorkers and tourists alike? (more…)