10/5/2021  WCIR.biz

The National Italian American Foundation (NIAF):

The Italians That Built America: Amadeo Pietro Giannini

The Bank of America, the largest bank in the country, was established by Amadeo Pietro “A.P.” Giannini in San Francisco. Born in San Jose, California, in 1870, Giannini was the son of Italian immigrants, Luigi and Virginia Giannini from Genoa, Italy. In 1904, Giannini founded the “Banca d’Italia” (Bank of Italy) in San Francisco, offering hardworking immigrants savings accounts and loans, when other banks would refuse, judging them not by their wealth, but by their character. Also known as “America’s Banker,” Giannini would even keep his banks open until 9 or 10 at night for the workers.

When the 1906 San Francisco earthquake occurred, Giannini saw the need to assist and set up a temporary bank, collecting deposits and making loans, via horse and wagon. The wagon was disguised to protect against theft and Giannini made loans to those interested in rebuilding, with a handshake. Every loan Giannini gave out was paid back in full. In 1916, Giannini had opened several other locations of his bank, revolutionizing the idea of branch banking. Soon, Giannini had more than 500 branches throughout the state and in 1928, Bank of Italy merged with Bank of America, Los Angeles, and Bank of America was agreed to be the institution’s name, as it stood for the broader mission of the bank.

Giannini also financed the Golden Gate Bridge, and the fledgling film industry, including Cecil B. DeMille’s “Ten Commandments,” and Disney’s “Snow White,” as well as California’s aerospace and agricultural industries.

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