Sunday, March 17, 2013

Hibernia

hibernia7511

The Hibernia Bank of San Francisco. Founded in 1859, this building along Market was built in 1892, and withstood the 1906 earthquake. Plenty of Irish in the city in the early days:

By 1870 the population of San Francisco had grown to 100,000, one third of whom were Irish. One in every three Irish men at this time owned real estate. In 1859 the Irish were the only National group to have a banking institution of its own. The Hibernian Savings and Loan Bank, set up by James Phelan, enabled the ambitious Irish to engage in business and industry. The San Francisco Directory of 1875 is a proof of their success; Irish businesses dominated it.

In 1988, Hibernia was bought by Security Pacific, who was then bought by Bank of America, who apparently decided to abandon the property. This building sat empty, the area becoming "troubled" over time, the police using it as a district HQ for a while. It is the oldest temple-style bank left in the city (Wells Fargo has another down the road); it is now in the middle of a renovation and hopes to be open within a year.

Nice parade yesterday, certainly not as well-attended as Pride or New Year's, but thousands turned out on a very nice day for music and food and, of course, beer. I imagine the bars were jumping last night...