The bank traces its history to the Woolworth National Bank in San Francisco. Charles Crocker, who was one of The Big Four of the Central Pacific Railroad and who constructed America's First Transcontinental Railroad, acquired a controlling interest in Woolworth for his son William Henry Crocker. The bank was renamed Crocker Woolworth National Bank, later Crocker-Anglo Bank, Crocker-Citizens National Bank, then Crocker First National Bank and finally Crocker National Bank. It had many branches, mostly in the northern half of California. In 1963, Crocker-Anglo Bank later merged with Los Angeles' Citizens National Bank, to become Crocker-Citizens Bank. and later, Crocker Bank.
On April 21, 1975, Emily Harris, along with other members of the Symbionese Liberation Army robbed the Carmichael, California, branch of the Crocker Bank of $15,000. Harris shot and murdered customer Myrna Opsahl for responding too slowly to Harris' demand for everybody in the building to lie down on the ground.
In the 1970s and early 1980s, Crocker cultivated a reputation for customer service and convenience, including expanded hours. It was also one of the first California banks to offer automated teller machine service; one early television commercial showed a young businessman confidently using the machine, while speaking to it as if it were a person; he was then followed by an elderly woman approaching it for the first time, and greeting it with a very uncertain "Hello."
Crocker National Bank was purchased by the British financial institution Midland Bank in 1981, but after a series of financial losses it was sold on to Wells Fargo Bank in 1986. Crocker's president and over eighty vice presidents left the bank after the merger.
In the 1970s Crocker ran a television commercial featuring the song "We've Only Just Begun," which was later rerecorded by The Carpenters and sold as a single: It became the duo's signature song. The ad showed a wedding, ending with the tag line "You've got a long way to go. We'd like to help you get there. The Crocker Bank."
As of January 2012 Wells maintains the Crocker name as a current federally registered trademark at its "Crocker Office Branch" at 1 Montgomery St. San Francisco, California in a wall display of the Crocker Bank history.
- James Sterngold (January 17, 2002). "4 Former Radicals Are Charged In 1975 Killing in Bank Robbery". The New York Times. Retrieved 1 February 2011.
- 1970 Famous Wedding Commercial featuring the "We've only Just Begun" song
- Nightclub opens in a former Crocker branch: Crocker Club
- Website for former Crocker employees
- LA Times report on Crocker Bank history
- Picture of the Ornate lobby at Crocker bank Lobby Montgomery and Post Streets San Francisco
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