The banking industry has been a cornerstone of America’s economic development. Over the years, many financial institutions have come and gone, but some have stood the test of time. 

These institutions hold stories that offer us glimpses into the financial history of the United States. Many old banks, like Wells Fargo, you’ve probably heard of. And there are plenty of old banks, such as this one founded in 1922, that aren’t included in this list. 

Let’s look at some of the oldest banks in the country. This article examines their roots and the roles they’ve played over the years.

Bank of New York Mellon (BNY Mellon)

  • Founded: 1784
  • Headquarters: New York City, New York

Founded by Alexander Hamilton, the Bank of New York was one of the first banks in the United States and played a pivotal role in the early days of the American financial system. In 2007, the Bank of New York merged with Mellon Financial Corporation to become BNY Mellon. Today, it operates as a global banking and financial services holding company, specializing in investment management and investment services.

State Street Corporation

  • Founded: 1792
  • Headquarters: Boston, Massachusetts

State Street Corporation is one of the world’s leading providers of financial services to institutional investors. Founded in 1792, State Street originally dealt in serving as a merchant bank and provided a variety of other financial services. Over the years, it has evolved into a complex organization offering investment management, research and trading, and investment servicing.

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Bank of America

  • Founded: 1904 (as Bank of Italy)
  • Headquarters: Charlotte, North Carolina

While not as old as the first two banks on this list, Bank of America has a rich history dating back to its founding in San Francisco as the Bank of Italy in 1904. Founded by Amadeo Pietro Giannini, the bank was initially established to serve the needs of immigrants settling in the United States. The bank was renamed Bank of America in 1930 and has grown to become one of the largest and most influential banks in the country.

Wells Fargo & Company

  • Founded: 1852
  • Headquarters: San Francisco, California

Wells Fargo is synonymous with the American West, having originally been established to provide banking services to California during the Gold Rush. Founded by Henry Wells and William Fargo, the bank has had its share of controversies but remains a major player in the U.S. banking industry. It provides a range of financial services, including banking, mortgage, investments, and consumer and commercial finance.

Citizens Financial Group, Inc.

  • Founded: 1828
  • Headquarters: Providence, Rhode Island

Originally founded as the High Street Bank in Providence, Rhode Island, Citizens Financial Group has grown to become one of the largest retail banks in the United States. The bank provides a full range of banking services, including consumer banking, commercial banking, and wealth management services.

M&T Bank Corporation

  • Founded: 1856
  • Headquarters: Buffalo, New York

M&T Bank was established just before the American Civil War and has survived numerous financial crises, including the Great Depression. The bank has a strong focus on community banking and offers a wide range of financial services, including retail and commercial banking, investment, and mortgage services.

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The oldest banks in the United States are not merely financial institutions; they are living historical documents that provide insights into the country’s economic development. From serving immigrants and Gold Rush pioneers to facilitating global investment, these banks have played significant roles in shaping the American financial landscape. Their resilience and adaptability over the years serve as a testament to the dynamism and strength of the U.S. economy.

 

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