Image via the New York Fed

Did you know that the Federal Reserve Bank of New York has a gold vault containing the world’s largest known depository of gold? This cache of 530,000 gold bars collectively weighs 6,700 tons, which is so heavy that the vault had to be built deep underground on top of bedrock. Otherwise, the floor would break.

Unfortunately, none of the gold is owned by the New York Fed, the Federal Reserve System, New York itself, or residents of New York. The Fed simply guards the gold on behalf of the U.S. government, foreign governments, other central banks, and official international organizations. There are 122 such account holders, each of which has its own gold contained in a “compartment,” which is a fancy way of saying “fenced-in area.” Furthermore, although transfers carry a fee (as do all transactions), they really only involve hauling the gold from one “compartment” to another, reports an Untapped Cities writer who toured the vault. 

Nonetheless, the simple setup does not shirk security. Each compartment is sealed with no less than four locks, and a control group of three representatives must always be present anytime gold is moved or a compartment is opened. Also, since gold bars are not fungible, each deposit is carefully weighed and catalogued so that the exact same bars are returned to the owners upon withdrawal. You may recall the terrorist attempt on the Federal Reserve Bank last October that was thwarted by undercover agents. The perpetrators intended to detonate a 1000-pound bomb in a van by cell phone.

If you’re interested in  seeing the gold vault, sign up for a free tour of the New York Fed. You’ll have to wait a while, though–they’re booked until mid-September. As an alternative in the meantime, check out the Gold ATM on 57th Street.

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