About a month ago, I moved from the financial district in lower Manhattan to the west side of the island. It just so happens I moved directly across from the entrance to Citigroup’s new downtown headquarters on Greenwich Street. I spend my days writing about bankers while watching them come and go.
From an admittedly small sample size of just a few weeks, here’s what I think I’ve learned so far.
There are several places to get a quick bite to eat in the area – a pizza place, a deli and a restaurant that makes pub food, among others. Rarely do you see anyone resembling a banker – or anyone who works at Citi – in any of these restaurants come noontime.
Rather, the crowds who exit Citi tend to flood to Sweetgreen, an organic salad shop just down the street. At lunchtime, the line grows out the door and around the corner. The other popular option among those exiting the bank is a coffee shop that makes organic cold pressed juices and other overly healthy dishes. From an outsider’s perspective, Citi employees tend to eat fairly healthy.
This should come as no surprise, but interns, who started at U.S. banks two weeks, rarely ever spend any time alone when outside of the bank. They always travel in packs, commonly adorning “the uniform” – plain slacks and a white or oxford blue shirt.
One interesting anecdote: I was standing in line at a local bodega and a funny conversation ensued between two interns who were behind me. They debated the pros and cons of asking MDs and other higher-ups whether they wanted coffee when they were making a run. One said it showed initiative, the other pondered whether you were volunteering yourself as someone wholly unimportant. I checked out before they came to a consensus.
If you live in New York, you know the Citi Bike program fairly well. As it’s sponsored by the bank, they have a drop-off location right out front. To my surprise, I see plenty of people who are exiting the bank hop on a bike to head home – including many wearing suits.
But no one ever shows up in the morning arriving on a Citi bike, and for good reason. Sweaty and out of breath is no way to start a workday. The end result is that all the bikes are gone at the end of the day, and no one brings them back the next morning (this is one of the problems with the program, which is reportedly struggling to make money).
To keep the stations staffed with bikes, the Citi Bike program hires workers wearing bright yellow vests to haul bikes back to the bank location, lest it will always remain empty.
(An empty Citi Bike station at 6 p.m.)
Between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m., employees flood out of Citi. Plenty of offices are still illuminated late at night, and black cars wait patiently well past sundown, but there are many who leave work at a decent hour.
One of the positives and negatives of living across from a bank is the fact that you can always get a cab – and hear them honking. No matter what the time, even if it’s approaching rush hour, taxis are always lined up in front of the building right alongside the black cars. They’ll stretch 10 deep at times, waiting 15-20 minutes, just to pick up someone exiting the bank.