This is the site of San Francisco’s first fireproof building, erected in 1853 by Henry Wager Halleck. It was the headquarters for many outstanding lawyers, financiers, writers, actors, and artists. James King of William, editor of the Bulletin, died here on May 14, 1856 after being shot by James Casey. This building escaped destruction in the fire of 1906.
BANK OF ITALY
(Later Bank of America)
• National Historic Site (78000754)
The Bank of Italy was founded in San Francisco, California, United States, on October 17, 1904 by Amadeo P. Giannini. It grew by a branch banking strategy to become Bank of America, the world’s largest commercial bank, with 493 branches in California and assets of $5 billion in 1945. The bank was established to serve working class citizens of the area, especially Italian Americans living in San Francisco’s North Beach neighborhood. The bank survived the San Francisco earthquake and fire of 1906 and was one of the first to offer loans to businesses to help rebuild the city. The Bank of Italy building—which later became a National Historic Landmark—was opened in 1908. Giannini had his office space in an open area on the first floor. In 1909, the bank began opening branches in other cities, beginning with San Jose. It had 24 branches by 1918, at which time it was the first statewide branch banking system. The Bank of Italy merged with the smaller Bank of America, Los Angeles in 1928. In 1930, Giannini changed the name “Bank of Italy” to “Bank of America”. As chairman of the new, larger Bank of America, Giannini expanded the bank throughout his tenure, which continued until his death in 1949.