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A.P. GIANNINI - BANKER OF AMERICA


Amadeo Peter Giannini (1870 - 1949) pioneered banking services for the masses in the United States. Born in San Jose, CA to immigrant parents, he started in business as a produce broker in San Francisco. He was extremely successful in that business and sold his interest to his employees and retired at the age of 31. As administrator of his father-in-law's estate, he became a director of the Columbus Savings & Loan in which his father-in-law owned an interest. At the time, banks were run for the benefit of the wealthy and well-connected. Giannini, however, saw opportunity in serving the financial needs of the growing immigrant population. At loggerheads with the other directors over his idea, he quit the board in frustration and decided to start his own bank. He opened the tiny Bank of Italy in the North Beach section of San Francisco to serve the needs of "the little fellow". The bank was housed in a converted saloon directly across the street from the Columbus Savings & Loan. Giannini believed in branch banking as a way to stabilize banks during difficult times as well as expand the capital base. He bought banks throughout California and eventually had over five hundred branches throughout the state. By then, the bank was the largest in the world and it had changed its name to Bank of America. Giannini died at his home in San Mateo, CA where he lived most of his life. Time magazine named him one of the "Builders and Titans of the Twentieth Century". He also founded Transamerica Corporation as a holding company for his other financial enterprises. Bank of America today is still one of the largest banks in the world. True to Giannini's vision, the bank has more branches and ATMs than any other bank in the world. With its recent mergers with NationsBank and Fleet Boston, Bank of America's service area today stretches coast to coast. October 17, 2004 marked the 100th anniversary of Giannini's creation. In 2010, Giannini was installed in the California Hall of Fame which commemorates the contributions of Californians to the state and nation.