Tuesday, November 08, 2005

COLUMBIA HEIGHTS: Remains of Riggs

LOOK CLOSELY. Sure, Pittsburgh's PNC Bank may be doing business in the old Riggs bank branch at 14th Street NW and Park Road, but Riggs is still there if you look close enough. Do you see it? Look above the Ionic column and you'll see the shadow of the old Riggs signage.

After scandal-tarred Riggs was caught hiding assets for Augusto Pinochet and violating anti-money laundering regulations in its embassy division, the Washington institution merged with PNC earlier this year and the Riggs name was erased from modern-day Washington banking.

Of course, the historic Riggs name can't be totally erased from Washington. (Or Corcoran for that matter ... William Wilson Corcoran and George Washington Riggs went into the banking business together in 1840.) Besides the remains of the name seen on the 14th Street NW bank branch, you can see the Riggs legacy in a street and place. (Corcoran Street is the mirror half street to Riggs Place/Riggs Street south of R Street. Then there's the Corcoran.)

LET'S HOPE THE OLD RIGGS SHADOW is resistant to scrubbing. New York blogger Joe Shumacher alerted Sprint to the remains of old signage on its Sixth Avenue store in Greenwich Village. And surprise, surprise, Sprint took action. For the sake of Washington history, let's hope nobody at PNC reads my blog.

>>"Riggs Bank Hid Assets Of Pinochet, Report Says" [The Washington Post]
>>"After Riggs, Embassy Accounts Can't Find a Home" [The Washington Post]
>> "The CIA and Riggs Bank" [Slate]
>>"It Worked!" [What About the Plastic Animals]


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