Jump to main content

COVID-19: News and Campus Updates

Banking

What do these photos tell you about the functions banks served?

First National Bank- 1865

This is an early photo of the First National Bank in Denver. The photo was taken about 1865. The bank was located in one of Denver's first brick buildings.

First National Bank- 1865

Photo: Denver Public Library, Western History Collection

More About This Topic

Cities also were centers for banking and finance. Banks provided many important services. They were safe places to deposit money. They also loaned money to ranchers, mining companies, and builders.

Their Own Words

"Our first banker in town [Colorado Springs] was Alva Adams, who had a safe. We took our money to him, and he gave us due bills-no pass books and no bookkeeping."

Source: William S. Jackson, “Banking in Colorado Springs,”  Colorado Magazine, 25 (1948): 193.

First National Bank- 1880

This is Denver's First National Bank in about 1880, or some fifteen years after the previous photo was taken. How did this building change over time?

First National Bank- 1880

Photo: Denver Public Library, Western History Collection

More About This Topic

A third floor was added to the building along with a fashionable mansard roof. That roof style had a flat top and a third story with sloping sides. The seven sets of windows and chimneys along the left side of the third floor indicate that this space was used for apartments or offices.

Drawing Of a Bank Interior

This is the interior of Denver’s First National Bank, as shown in a drawing or engraving.

Drawing Of a Bank Interior

Photo: Denver Public Library, Western History Collection

More About This Topic

In this drawing, customers are being waited on at the counter. The bank teller or cashier is behind the counter.

Their Own Words

"Our medium of exchange in those days was mostly gold dust, carried in a buckskin sack and weighed out on gold scales. The smallest amount that was ever weighed out was 25 cents worth."

Source: Recollections of S. M. Buzzard, Colorado Springs Telegraph, July 31, 1921.

Drawing Of C.A. Cook And Company

This drawing or engraving shows the interior of the C. A. Cook & Company bank in Denver. The clerk in the center is weighing gold dust on a scale.

Drawing Of C.A. Cook And Company

Photo: Denver Public Library, Western History Collection

More About This Topic

Some of the customers in this bank are dressed like miners. They may have brought in gold dust or nuggets. Banks weighed and bought gold, exchanging it for paper money or coins. Dollar bills and coins were easier to use as money than gold dust.

Their Own Words

"We attach more value and safety to the [paper currency] issues of C. A. Cook & Co., of this city, than to any other of the small notes in circulation here, and for the simple reason that we all know the firm and have been familiar with its business for two or three years and are perfectly satisfied with its responsibility and integrity."

Rocky Mountain News, November 27, 1862, quoted in LeRoy R. Hafen, “Currency, Coinage and Banking in Pioneer Colorado,” Colorado Magazine, 10 (May 1933): 89.

Mining Exchange In Denver

This is the Mining Exchange building in Denver. The photo was taken sometime after 1891, when the building was constructed.

Mining Exchange In Denver

Photo: Denver Public Library, Western History Collection

More About This Topic

In 1891, the Mining Exchange was one of the tallest and most important buildings in Denver. The companies that had offices in this building bought and sold stocks or shares in mines for their customers.

Their Own Words

"The mining industry here has its own stock exchange where everything is speculated on mining shares. With his hard-earned mite [savings] the day laborer buys shares in a certain mine and then impatiently awaits a progress report. Suddenly-a catastrophe, because a telegram arrived indicating that the vein of silver disappeared without a trace and the stock has fallen to half its value."

Source: Emil Haddank Dunikowski, “Across the Rocky Mountains In Colorado (1893),” in “Polish Impressions of Colorado,” Essays and Monographs in Colorado History, 5 (1987): 37.

International Trust Company

This photo shows the International Trust Company's bank building in Denver. This stone structure was built in 1912. The style of autos parked on the street indicate that the photo was taken sometime between 1912 and 1920.

International Trust Company

Photo: Denver Public Library, Western History Collection

More About This Topic

The early 1900's were a time of prosperity. These economic good times are reflected in the bank building. In addition, the building style of this building--what is known as a neo-classical style--was intended to convey the image of stability.