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From Valley National Bank to Bank One to Chase Bank

When I got the job, in 1990, as a young Graphic Designer at Valley National Bank, in the corporate offices in Phoenix, I was delighted. Unfortunately, it wasn't long until I learned that I was on a sinking ship.

Even though Valley National Bank was celebrating 90 years in Arizona in 1990, everybody I talked to told me that the Bank was in terrible condition financially. At the time that I started, Valley Bank had not paid dividends to its stockholders for years. They were “frozen”. And the more I learned about how much Valley Bank had invested in Arizona, the more I understood someone who said, “If Valley National Bank goes bankrupt, we all have to leave Arizona, and the last one turns out the light”.

But, in 1992 Valley National Bank was taken over by a very strong Bank that was headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, named Bank One. Bank One had been buying up banks all over the country, and then leaving them alone to run themselves. If you lived in the Valley at the time, you may remember that they made a point of keeping the same employees, right up to the spokesmen for the Valley Bank/Bank One TV commercials, Bill Frieder and Lute Olsen. And it did rescue Arizona, and, well, my career as a Graphic Designer. Bank One was great. They poured an enormous amount of money into the old Valley Bank, updated the systems, and brought everything up to modern times. They even put a logo on the Valley Center Building, the first one on it, ever, since it was built in 1973.

Then in 1996, banking across state lines became legal for the very first time in the United States. In spite of names like “National”, there had never been a national bank. All banks were, by law, limited to the states that they were in. This was a way to insure that if one bank failed, it would only affect that particular state. And when this law changed, Bank One quickly divested itself of redundant departments all over the country, such as Marketing in Phoenix. And that was the end of my career as a Graphic Designer for Bank One. Sure, plenty of big-whigs were hired to go to Columbus, but I was too small. Besides, I had no intention of moving to Columbus. I like Phoenix!

So, in September of 1996, I changed careers, and started teaching Graphic Design. I really didn't pay much attention to Bank One, and hardly even noticed in 2004 when it was purchased by J.P Morgan Chase. I still bank there.

By the way, if you've ever wondered whatever happened to the fabulous art collection of Valley National Bank, it’s been preserved and is now in Manhattan, curated by J.P. Morgan Chase.

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