Ridgewood Savings Bank celebrates the 75th Anniversary of its Forest Hills branch
The Ridgewood Savings Bank celebrated the 75th anniversary of its historic Forest Hills branch bank on Queens Boulevard on Wednesday with a ceremony that included local politicians and some of its longest-standing depositors.
“I’m honored and proud to stand here in front of the bank today,” said Walter Reese, senior VP of operations at Ridgewood. “There has been so much change in New York City and Queens over the last 75 years, but not only has our building remained the same, but our service hasn’t changed either.”
While many banks have come and gone over the years, this local bank has withstood the test of time. Many of the bank’s executives attribute its success to the fact that it offers services that other banks have given up on, like passbook accounts and savings clubs.
“What you get from us is our service,” Reese said. “We treat everybody like people. It’s not about being a number; we know your name. We find out what your needs are and try to take care of those. We’re not looking to sell the product of the day.”
Libby Hollander, a customer at the branch for the past 62 years, can certainly attest to Ridgewood’s service.
“They’ve always been so nice to me,” Hollander said. “My daughter was a little baby when I first started coming here and she always loved it because they always gave her lollipops. They also treated me well, from the executives over the years, to the tellers, to the service desks. They always took care of me.”
Ridgewood, which has 35 branches, has recently put an emphasis into expanding into Brooklyn. Rather than finding trendy spots, the bank is trying to be strategic about its presence, and has tried to cluster its five Brooklyn branches, and its growth in general, in a way that makes sense.
“We find neighborhoods that make sense for Ridgewood and we kind of connect the dots,” said Reese. “If you go around, you see Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bensonhurst, Sheepshead Bay — you can see that we’re filling in a nice line so that we can become more recognizable.”
Ridgewood Savings Bank opened its first office in 1921 and its first branch in Forest Hills in 1940. The year that branch opened it won the Queens Chamber of Commerce’s Annual Building Award for excellence in architectural design. It was officially designated a landmark in 2000 by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission.
Today the bank has 35 branches in Queens, Brooklyn, Manhattan and the Bronx, as well as parts of Long Island and Westchester. Many still remember it as their first bank.
“This is an honor because, like most people in Queens, my first bank account was at Ridgewood,” said Queens Deputy Borough President Melva M. Miller. “I lived in Laurelton and it was one of the only banks there. It’s still there, and I still have an account there, but there is not much in it. Perhaps it’s time to make another deposit.”
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