Albert M. Greenfield

Albert M. Greenfield

Albert M. Greenfield (1887-1967) was a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania-based real estate, banking, retailing, hotel, and transportation industry leader. Over time, he became increasingly influential in the civic and philanthropic arenas, and in local and national politics.

Business Activities

The Albert M. Greenfield & Co. real estate firm opened its doors at 218 South 4th Street in May 1905, with $500.00 that his mother borrowed for him from her brother. The alliances created through his growing real estate business led to investments in motion picture theaters, building and loan associations, and mortgage financing. The company remains in operation [ [ AMG website (accessed Sep 1, 2008)] .]

By the early 1920's he controlled twenty seven building and loan associations. In 1924, Greenfield and his father-in-law Sol C. Kraus formed Bankers Bond & Mortgage Company to handle first mortgages on real estate in Philadelphia. After expanding to the New York City market, the firm was renamed Bankers Bond & Mortgage Company of America. From 1925, until its closing on December 22, 1930, as a result of the crash of 1929, he ran the Bankers Trust Company (Philadelphia). In 1927, Greenfield formed the Bankers Securities Corporation (B.S.C.) for general investment banking and trading in securities and served as its chairman until March 1959. It eventually became the parent company for virtually all of Greenfield's financial interests, including City Stores Company.

Board Memberships

Greenfield's reputation for producing results placed him in high demand. He was involved or interested in almost everything. At one point in the 1940's, he sat on forty-three boards. A few significant ones include: the Philadelphia Transportation Company; Girard College; the Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce; Urban Land Institute; National Conference of Christians and Jews; American Jewish Tercentenary Committee; Sesquicentennial Exposition; Albert Einstein Medical Center; and the Federation of Jewish Charities.

Greenfield was also very involved in educational endeavors with his time and money. He served as a trustee of Lincoln University, Temple University, Delaware Valley College of Science and Agriculture, Pennsylvania Military College, American Heritage Foundation and the Kennedy and Truman Presidential Libraries.

Philanthropic Endeavors

In the early 1950’s, he donated $1 million dollars to the University of Pennsylvania for development of a human relations center. The center was named in his honor; The Albert M. Greenfield Center for Human Relations. It was established to offer graduate and undergraduate instruction on intergroup relations; to advance knowledge in the field of group relations by fostering both basic and applied research; and to provide community service. The Center existed through the late 1960’s.

In 1953, he established the Albert M. Greenfield Foundation to provide grants to a variety of local Philadelphia institutions. The Foundation supports the Albert Monroe Greenfield Memorial Lecture in Human Relations, an annual event at the University of Pennsylvania held under the terms of the endowment of the Greenfield Professorship of Human Relations. The professorship was established in 1972. [ [ University of Pennsylvania, Jerry Lee Center of Criminology website (accessed Sep 1, 2008)] .] In 2006, the Foundation sold its Chestnut Hill headquarters, the Sugar Loaf estate, to Chestnut Hill College for $11 million. [ [ "Chestnut Hill College buying Sugar Loaf," "Philadelphia Business Journal", Apr 14, 2006 (accessed Sep 1, 2008)] ] [ [ "Chestnut Hill College purchases SugarloafThe additional acreage nearly doubles the college campus, which is necessary to accommodate its expanding enrollment," by Kristin Pazulski, Aug 10, 2006 (accessed Sep 1, 2008)] .] In 1992, the foundation endowed the Albert M. Greenfield Student Competition, The Philadelphia Orchestra, to recognize extraordinary young musical talent in the Greater Delaware Valley region. [ [ The Philadelphia Orchestra, Greenfield Student competition website (accessed Sep 1, 2008)] .] The Foundation has also funded the Albert M. Greenfield Digital Imaging Center at The Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia.

His philanthropic endeavors transcended religious and racial lines. He was praised for his work by such organizations as the National Conference of Christians and Jews, World Brotherhood Organization, Urban League, and the Catholic Interracial Council. For his philanthropic work, he was bestowed with the rank of Commander of the Order of Pius IX by the Pope. He was the first Jew in America to receive such an honor.

A public elementary school located at 22nd and Chestnut Streets, Philadelphia, is named in his honor.


In politics, in 1917, Greenfield was elected to a Philadelphia Common Council seat and served until 1920. Originally a Republican, he switched parties with the advent of the New Deal and remained a strong Democratic supporter until his death. He enjoyed a close relationship with many Presidents from Herbert Hoover to Lyndon Johnson. Greenfield served as a delegate to the Republican National Convention in 1928 and to the Democratic National Conventions from 1948-1964. He was also a presidential elector in 1956 and 1960. Through his political connections he received appointments to various committees and commissions. These included appointment by Philadelphia Mayor Richardson Dilworth in 1956 as Chairman of the City Planning Commission. In order to accept the position, Greenfield had to retire from his real estate business and stepped down as head of the Albert M. Greenfield & Co. on January 1, 1956, after fifty years. He became a strong advocate of urban renewal. Although on the commission for a little over a year, his work laid the foundation for the development of Penn Center, Society Hill, Independence Square, and Veterans Stadium. Also because of his political activism, in 1948 Philadelphia hosted both party conventions.


* [ Finding Aid to the Alfred M. Greenfield Papers, The Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Collection 1959 (accessed Aug 29, 2008)] .
*Baltzell, Edward Digby (1989) "Philadelphia Gentlemen: The Making of a National Upper Class", (Transaction Publishers) ISBN 9780887387890.

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