Thursday, April 10, 2014

How the Chase Bank Logo Symbolically Tells You Right Up Front How Sketchy Chase Bank Is

(What follows is a brief little mini-article to try to fill the shamefully large gap between actual articles.  I will continue to update this blog, I promise.  In the meantime, here is a little interesting anecdote.)

So, some people seem really into finding the hidden conspiracy-type symbols in corporate and financial logos. I think this is pretty silly myself, as I am not a believer in Illuminati-type conspiracy theories...besides, money already has a dead, frequently slave-owning white man on it, so what else do you really need to remind you who's in charge?

HOWEVER, did you know that the symbol for Chase Bank totally evokes a conspiracy/scam pulled way back in the 18th century?

It seems that prior to the building of the Croton Aqueduct, New York City was without a major reliable source of clean water. Remember, the rivers were brackish, and also used as sewers. There were some wells, and water was a scarce enough commodity that bottled water was actually a thing at the time.  People were even starting to pipe water into homes and businesses by the end of the 18th century, just in a really sporadic and inefficient way rather than in massive, publicly funded reservoirs and water works. One company that formed to (supposedly) supply water was the Manhattan Company, which raised 2 million dollars for the stated purpose of establishing a water works.

They then went ahead and used about 5 percent of that money to establish a little bit of water infrastructure and used the remaining NINETY FIVE PERCENT to start a bank.

They had sold off the water works entirely to the city less than 10 years later. But they kept a "water committee" around for a hundred years after the formation of the company, just so they could pretend the whole premise had been legit. Of course, they didn't actually provide water. Just banking.

The Manhattan Company bank would eventually merge with Chase Bank, which acquired JP Morgan, so that all gets a bit complicated, but in the 1960s they acquired a particular logo that hearkens back to their origins: an octagon surrounding a square.

This one

That symbol, the octagon surrounding a square, is a representation of a cross section of the wooden pipes used to carry water in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

Their logo evokes the way they scammed their way into establishing a bank.

So yes, I think that's an interesting story; tell it to your friends.

Note: there is some debate as to whether or not the logo was explicitly chosen for its reference to a water pipe, or if it's just a coincidence born of corporate "abstract symbols."  More research is required.  However, I think it's a good idea for us all to remember what the symbol means when we see it, whether Chase meant it to have that significance or not.


  1. Hi! Inspired by you I created "Steampunk Ivan Aguéli", a Swedish 19th C. painter, anarchist and Sufi: