After 90 Years, Bank of America Will Close Cortland Branch

Cortland Avenue Bank of America, 1973. (Photo: San Francisco State University)

This story was written by Nathan Falstreau from Hoodline, in partnership with Bernalwood:

Customers of the Bank of America branch at 433 Cortland Ave. in Bernal Heights received a letter late last month stating that the branch will close in November. The notification comes a year and a half after the bank announced it would no longer staff human tellers.

The letter sent to Bank of America customers in Bernal Heights.

The closure is part of a recent trend as more customers look to their phones to do business—Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan moved to close many of its retail locations in an effort to lower costs by bringing more customers onto its online and mobile banking platforms.

The decision by the native San Francisco business—now based in Charlotte, NC—was the result of internal data indicating a shift in how customers interacted with their local branches.

Crowd outside the Bank of America on Cortland Avenue after a robbery in 1936. | Photo:: San Francisco Public Library)

Community banking is essential for small businesses, as well as for more marginalized members of the community like seniors or those whose primary spoken language isn’t English.

“This has a big impact on us as merchants, and that further extends to our customers that use the bank,” nearby Heartfelt owner (and Bernal neighbor) Darcy Lee told Bernalwood in 2015. “There are many senior citizens that use this as a resource in Bernal.”

While many consumers are content with mobile and online banking, it’s not so simple for shopkeepers. “All of us as merchants need money—actual coins and bills—sometimes multiple times in one day,” said Neighbor Darcy. “We also make large cash deposits.”

Bank of America at 433 Cortland Ave. as it looks today (Photo: Google)

Bank of America’s Cortland Avenue location opened in 1927 as the neighborhood was still rebuilding after the 1906 earthquake; the bank still owns the building.

The branch was also historically the only banking center on Cortland Avenue—even to this day—making the closure even more problematic for neighborhood residents. The nearest banking service is a Wells Fargo ATM at 601 Cortland Ave.

“I don’t usually get choked up about banks,” Neighbor Julie told Bernalwood. “But this one does feel like a piece of the neighborhood.”

The last day for banking at the Cortland Avenue branch is November 28th.

16 thoughts on “After 90 Years, Bank of America Will Close Cortland Branch

    • Wow, that is so cool! I had no idea of the bank’s history till this story. It looks like such a boring normal bank, but to see the historical photos, it really brings the history into perspective. Thanks for sharing!

      • My uncle was also first editor of Bernal Heighs News. Vickie Walker has a copy…. Every year the bank had a BBQ all day in their back lot for all their customers..

  1. Bank of America is also closing one of its oldest branches in Fresno, the Tower branch. It owns the building so no one is too sure what will happen there. Neighbors and businesses are saddened to lose the bank.

  2. Too bad. I would rather see the branch on Mission change uses. That branch has a parking lot 2X the size of the actual bank, plus another parking lot behind it on Tiffany. More housing there would help the merchants on Mission Street, as would a bike share station.

    • That large parking lot is definitely one of the reasons it gets more traffic, and therefore is staying open. How much more obvious could that be?

  3. During the second World War, the Bank had an arrangement with Junipero Serra school to collect our pennies, nickles and dimes and put them in a Savings Bond account for each of us. Alas, promises promises, I never found out what my balance or summary was for the account. And, no money back, also.
    Funny thing, later on in life I became a teacher in Sacramento and found out one day that of one of my student’s dad had been the manager of B of A on Mission and 29th;; and even more strange that my daughter Colleen has become the National VP of Bank of America for where you pay your bills on-line. . Now ain’t that strange for a kid from “the Hill.”

    • Hi Pat…. Old buddy..

      Also did the same at Junipero Serra but as we got the coins we were given stamps to put in a book and once filled we received a bond. Hope you are doing well. Don

  4. They have been grooming us customers for a couple years now to use online services. Anyone not using online services will be left behind

    • Yes, and I like online service. I even deposit the few checks I still get with my phone app. However, I cannot get small bills and coin out of my phone or the atm. That’s the only thing I use the bank building for.

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