There are many unusual things to do in New York.
It’s difficult being able to make a list in detail, since there are too many places tied to the evolution of the city, too many historic sites, and many, really many surprising locations. Almost always we learn about them by the most improbable, original and curious ways.
So, every journey to New York gives new discoveries and offers in the same time further cues for an unavoidable umpteenth return.
I told about several unusual things do in New York, museums, neighborhoods, stories, artistic installations, old dwellings, dusty taverns and new paths. Find here some.
This time I want to take you with me discovering one among the most important buildings in the world, where not only it’s possible to get into – upon booking well in advance, of course – but also visit its precious and notorious vaults.
I mean the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the world’s biggest stockpile of gold.
Unusual things to do in New York: The Federal Reserve Bank
The Federal Reserve Bank of New York is located in Lower Manhattan.
In a huge building dating back to the early 1900s set among Liberty Street, Williams Street, Maiden Lane and Nassau Street.
The official entrance is at 33, Liberty Street. The visitors’ one – you must have got confirmation booking and ID – is at 44, Maiden Lane.
The whole building was built between 1919-1924 based on a project by the architects York and Sawyer, while decorations and wrought iron ornaments inside were planned by the craft master Samuel Yellin. It was entirely built inspired by the Italian Renaissance style, and particularly the Florentine palaces of the 15th century.
The Federal Reserve is a New York City Landmark from 1965 and it is listed in the National Register of Historic Places from 1980. Practically a treasure within the treasure!
Unusual things to do in New York: visit the building and the Federal Reserve Bank vaults
The guided tour – about 50 minutes – develops into two different moments.
The first part starts in the rooms on the first floor through an introduction of the guide about the history and the architecture of the building and keeps going on through a detailed explanation about the multiples activities made by the Federal Reserve.
You go through a small museum where the great financial crisis of he 1900s are “told”, from the 1929 until the 2007 more recent one, besides the technique of production, distribution and destruction of the bills and coins and a series of curious issues about it.
Did you know that on each dollar bill there’s a small note indicating where and when it was born? And did you know that daily about 100.000.000$ bills are destroyed (because they are defective, old or ruined)? And did you know that daily as many are brought in?
The second part of the tour is certainly the most waited and fascinating one.
On the other hand, who hasn’t ever dreamt to enter a vault full of golden bars which worth 300billion dollars?
Once arrive to the basements of the Federal Reserve – about 30meters underground – you reach a special elevator in a narrow space taking to the vault.
It is shown a few minutes documentary where the primarily activities of this area’s staff are told: they must wear obligatorily metal tip shoes covers in order to avoid the bars – they weigh as far as 12,5kg – cause painful feet fractures falling passing from the trucks to the shelves.
And then, finally, you go into the vault through the only access allowed: a 230tonns weight revolving door.
Once inside, you have few minutes to admire (always behind the thick iron gates) an unimaginable golden bars towering of all sorts of size. And if you are lucky – as it happened to me – you can be present at the complicated weighting procedure the bars just arrived.
You know that in that narrow and sparkling room the golden reserves of almost 40 countries in the world – besides a good part of the United States of America one – are kept.
At the end of the tour each participant is given a special gift.
A plastic bag with the New York Federal Reserve Bank stamp containing fragments of he bills destroyed daily.
A unique souvenir of an experience really unusual and original to make!
Unusual thing to do in New York: practical info and tips to book the tour online
It’s important to be aware about a series of info without which it is not allowed to book and so take part into the tour.
It’s absolutely forbidden – for security reasons, of course – to take photographs or shoot videos once inside the building. All the pictures in this post related to the insides come from the Federal Reserve official website.
The tour has to be obligatorily booked at least one month in advance following the procedure indicated here.
Reckon that the daily access is allowed only for two (1pm and 2pm, Monday-Friday) of 25 people max groups, so get organized in time to not run the risk to not find place.
Once received the confirmation via email, remember to print the ticket – which is nominal and free – and take it with you together with the passport or ID.
At the entrance you will be subjected to all the checking – metal detector and bags checking (which will be put in the proper lockers) included – and passports.