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People's Bank circa 1914

BACK IN TIME — The People’s Bank, located on Main Street in Hamburg, is pictured, circa 1914, as the tellers get ready for business. Photo used courtesy of Jack Edson.
Pictured is the scene inside the People’s Bank on Main Street in Hamburg, circa 1914, as the bank’s personnel are getting ready for business.

The two tellers who are facing the camera cannot be identified, but the woman seated at the desk, behind the middle cashier window, is Beulah Pound, the daughter of Hamburg Shoe Store owner Albert Pound. Descendents of the Pound family still live in the town of Hamburg, today.

As America entered the 20th century, a Wall Street banker said that the country “was the envy of the world” and that the country was undergoing a “prosperity panic.”

In Hamburg, the new century ushered in an era of business and residential expansion. A factor in the town’s growth was the opening of the Lackawanna steel plant in 1902.

Within a short time, other factories located near the steel plant and, as they began to hire employees, new residential areas began to develop in Hamburg.

Blasdell had already been incorporated in 1898 and many newcomers came to settle in Carnegie, Scranton, Steelton and Woodlawn Beach.

With all of this growth came the development of the electric trolleys, the railroads and the gasoline automobile.

What about the People’s Bank? The business was founded in 1891, with Robert Foote as its first president. Six years later, in 1897, the bank boasted of assets in excess of $850,000.

The industrial and residential growth in the town at the turn of the century helped to further fuel its growth and, although the bank felt the economic downturn of the 1920s, it continued to serve the community until 1964, when it merged with the Liberty Bank of Buffalo.

When first founded, the bank was located in the Kopp’s Hotel and Opera House at Main and Buffalo streets. It was still there in 1900 but, in 1904, it was again relocated to the structure familiar to longtime Hamburg residents, on the north side of Main Street.

That original building is still there, but its facade is now covered with a new exterior material and, at present, is home to a branch of Bank of America.

This column is written by Hamburg Town Historian Jim Baker.

Anyone wanting to submit photographs and/or materials can call Baker at the Hamburg Town Hall on either Wednesday or Thursday, between 9:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., at 649-6111 ext. 2400. Readers can also provide feedback by writing to The Sun and mailing to The Sun, 141 Buffalo St., Hamburg, NY 14075.
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