The underground of any city is fascinating. It reveals layers of history, things thought discarded or tucked away. It contains the underbelly of the city’s infrastructure. While the catacombs of New York City, Paris and other cities may be the most Halloween-esque for today’s holiday, we thought it would be fun to round up some of the city’s most interesting vaults. Instead of bodies and bones, these are subterranean spaces deliberately set aside for storing important and precious items. What is most interesting is the range in types of vaults here in New York City (no, money doesn’t make everything go around here, even though it might seem like it).
1. The Federal Reserve Gold Vault
No photos are allowed inside the vault in New York City, so this is a photo of another Federal Reserve gold vault
Did you know that the Federal Reserve Bank of New York has a gold vault containing the world’s largest known depository of gold? As of 2012, 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 80 feet below ground. 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. Read more about the gold vault here.