National City Bank of New York
A large number of Forman's photos were taken near here, either inside or just outside the bank. [View photos]
The gorup taken inside show a group of American women signing various documents at the bank's counter. The mood among the group is light-hearted, you can see they are enjoying their moment of fame in front of Forman's camera. But there's another, sadder tale unfolding at the same time the photos were taken.
Moddsey relates the story:
I had a feeling I had seen this photo before as there is an interesting tale to it. It was taken on 30 October 1940 at the National City Bank of New York in Central.
The ladies from left to right are: Mrs F. K. Pagett, Mrs L. Cramer, Mrs W. C. Kent, Mrs J. Parrish and Mrs Maxcy Smith Jr.
The lady in the middle is Mrs Walter Campbell Kent. Her husband was a CNAC pilot who perished the same day this photo was taken. His plane enroute to Hong Kong from Chongqing (Chungking) was shot down by Japanese aircraft. A newspaper clipping is attached.
As for the other ladies, the Pagett and Parrish families and 70 other Americans left on the American President Liner President Coolidge on 5 November 1940.
The other photos in this group were taken outside. The event seems to be a western man, his wife and daughter saying farewell to a group of chinese men. Maybe he was an official of the bank, or a well-known customer, saying goodbye to the staff of the bank?
The lady in the black & white shoes also makes an appearance in a couple of the outdoor photos, together with a couple of sailors. It's not clear what the relationship between the lady and the family was, or indeed if there was any relationship at all. We think the sailors were with the American President Line.
As to the bank, it's still in Hong Kong, but easier to recognise if I tell you it's current name: Citibank. Their website tells us they first opened in Hong Kong on December 8, 1902, under the name International Banking Corporation. All branches became National City Bank branches in 1927.
Moddsey again, with the building's location: The National City Bank of New York, forerunner to Citi Bank stood on Queen's Rd Central between Ice House and Duddell Streets. Battery Path can be seen in the background.