Industrial Bank of Washington D.C.

Headquartered in the nation’s capital, Industrial Bank is a historic African American owned bank. With six branches in the DC area and over $420 million in assets, it bought out the assets of City National Bank in New Jersey, expanding it to the tristate area. It stands as one of the top 5 Black owned banks in the country. It was established in 1913 as Industrial Savings Bank by John Whitelaw Lewis.

Originally operating out of the Laborers Building and Loan Association, which was designed by one of the few African American architects in the US, William Sidney Pittman. When Industrial Savings started to operate out of its own building, John Lewis chose Isaiah Hatton, another Black architect to design the building, which was located on U street. I mention these men and their professions because there weren’t a lot of Black architects then and there aren’t many now. The fact that John Lewis always chose buildings that were designed by Black architects is a beautiful example of keeping it in the community.

Unfortunately the bank closed in 1932 because of the Great Depression. In 1934, Jesse Mitchell, a Howard University alumni reorganized and reopened the bank as Industrial Bank of Washington DC. Despite the economic hardships of the Depression, Industrial Bank continued to thrive and serve the Black community in Washington DC. By 1947 the bank had $6 million in assets and over 14,000 depositors with 20 percent of those being white customers. At this time Industrial Bank was the largest Black owned bank in the country.

Despite its status as the largest Black owned bank and 20 percent of it customers being white, they still had staffing issues because trained white bank workers refused to work at a Black owned bank. Not to mention the only Bank training Institute had a whites only policy, which caused quite a problem when it came to staffing. Although Industrial Bank had to tackle racial segregation and many other problems that African Americans face, the bank never closed, even during the Great Recession of 2008/09.

In 2013 the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Invested $1 million dollars to spur bank lending to the Black community. During this time, Industrial Bank remained, while many closed. To this day Industrial Bank is still growing, as of Nov 1, 2019 they acquired all the assets of the insolvent City National Bank in New Jersey.

CITY NATIONAL BANK was a regional bank in Newark NJ, with three branches in the New York/New Jersey area. It was considered the seventh largest Black owned bank in the US according to Black Enterprise magazine in 2011.

It was founded in 1972 by Charles Whigham at 900 Broad Street in Newark NJ and servicing the New York Metro area. At its peak the bank had nine locations but because of unsound practices and ineffective management, many of its branches closed and by January 2018 it was down to three banks. Two in NJ and one in Harlem. With no restoration plan to save the bank and a substantial dissipation of assets the bank was doomed to close, leaving those communities in which it served without a nearby banking institution and vulnerable to payday and predatory lenders. That’s when Industrial Bank of Washington, DC stepped in and acquired City National and all its assets. All the people who banked at City National were automatically and seamlessly blended into Industrial Bank without a hitch. City National Bank had $120 million in total assets and $111 million in deposits which were purchased by Industrial Bank giving it a footprint in the New York area.

In a climate where Black owned and minority banks are closing regularly, it’s an encouraging sign to see Industrial Bank continuing to grow and even save the patrons of another Black owned bank from predatory lending and keeping their money in the Black community. For more information go to

References _________________________________________________________________________

"A black bank witnessed devastation after the 1968 riots. Now 'the future is bright.'".

Industrial Bank website

"Industrial Bank of Washington, African American Heritage Trail".

"Biggest Bank: D.C. Industrial Bank with $6,000,000 in assets is top Negro financial institution". Ebony. July 1947.

"Industrial Bank, D.C.'s last African American-owned bank, receives $1M investment". Washington Post.

"Failed Bank Information for City National Bank of New Jersey, Newark, NJ". FDIC. Retrieved 9 November 2019.

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