Eating Out

Why Are There So Many Banks?

I have spent a fair amount of time in Cambridge’s Harvard Square.  I worked there (for three different organizations) over more than forty years.  Peter and I both lived near Harvard Square when we were dating and after we were married. We moved away for twenty-five years to bring up our children in (then) better public schools and moved back once they finished college and were on their own.

We went to movies in Harvard Square, we ate out there, we shopped there.

Things are different now.  Our wonderful hardware store has closed.  The movie theaters have closed. The newsstands, with newspapers from all over the world are gone.  There are still bookstores, but even the Harvard Coop devotes most of its first floor to clothing now that Amazon has changed book buying.

And what has replaced most of these institutions?  Banks!  Everywhere!

Jeremy came to visit this week.  When Jeremy visits, there is a lot of walking involved.  As we walked through Harvard Square, I saw that yet another bank is opening.  We walked a total of ten miles.  We probably saw more than thirty banks.

This did not make sense to us who rarely, if ever, go inside our own banks.

As I often do in times of uncertainty, I turned to Google.  I learned that a lot of big banks have closed and opened smaller outlets to "better serve their clients," that most of the walk-ins are older folks and there are some banking tasks that must be handled in person.

Still, do we really need a bank on every corner?


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This is so true. We notice it in our smallish town in Michigan. And these are not small buildings that are going up, they are often architectural statements! I vote for smaller bank buildings and bigger earnings for customers!

Richard McNally

Judy, Harvard, as you know, has its share of the ultra-wealthy, the people who live on unearned income and butter their bread on both sides. I think the strategy of the banks is that if they can land just one billionaire as a long-term customer, it is fully worth their while to build two or three banks here and there around the Square. In this age of grotesque inequality, if a bank hooks a single billionaire, or trillionaire, it’s going to be doing good business for a long, long time. That’s my two cents. The Square in general is sliding downhill so disastrously and steadily I don’t even want to think about it. That the Harvard Square Theater has been dark for four or five years now, compliments of an oblivious newcomer to the neighborhood, is truly beyond the pale, a stinging slap in the face to the community. The world is run by the ultra-wealthy, and that needs to change, in my quiet opinion.

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