The Federal Reserve Bank of New York is probably the most famous building in the whole world. It has to be considering that it holds the reputation for being the largest gold repository in the world. Even if this fact cannot be confirmed, owing to the secrecy of the Swiss Banks regarding their gold reserves, it is still impressive that the Federal Reserve Bank holds approximately 5,000 metric tons of gold bullion. This translates into $270 billion worth of gold, far more than what you would find in Fort Knox. Of course, the gold is not owned by the bank. It is simply a guardian of the property of various foreign nations, international organizations, and central banks, that too at no charge. However, each time a bar is moved, a handling fee is levied.
The bank, located at 33 Liberty Street between Nassau and William Streets in downtown Manhattan was built from 1919 through 1924. This huge building occupies an area equivalent to an entire city block, and has fourteen stories with five additional floors underground. The massive size of the bank and its fortress like appearance went on to inspire several other upcoming banks.
The Indiana limestone and Ohio sandstone exterior of the bank was designed to look like an early Italian Renaissance palace. The lanterns you see hanging outside the main entrance of the bank are the original works of metalworker Samuel Yellin, belonging to the time when the bank was built. Yellin also crafted the impressive looking metal clock that is mounted on the wall of the first floor of the bank.
The vault, which is generates the maximum curiosity among visitors and tourists alike, is located 50 feet below sea level and rests on Manhattan’s bedrock. The combined weight of the vault and the gold inside is more than the weight limits of any other foundation.
Recently, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York received a much deserved renovation that had been pending for a long time now. More than $150 million were spent on sprucing up the building and giving it every kind of upgrade that is required for a building of the 21st century. Now, the building has got fire alarms, air conditioning, modern lighting, sprinkler systems, and updates to its Internet connection and phone lines. In addition, the exterior and interior walls were thoroughly scrubbed and cleaned of all the pollution and soot that had accumulated on it.
If you want to get an inside peak into the Federal Reserve Bank, there are 60-minute tours that are offered to visitors. These tours must be booked at least five days in advance and all visitors are required to carry photo identification with them. In addition to learning about the bank’s gold vault, you can also enjoy an interactive multimedia exhibit called FedWorks, which explains the role of the bank in the economy. You can also participate in virtual monetary policy simulations. Tours are given Monday through Friday, except Bank holidays, at 9:30 a.m., 10:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m.