Image by Lawrence OP via FlickrThe largest gold vault in the world is located in New York City, just a few blocks from the tumultuous world of Wall Street. Many people walk by the Federal Reserve Bank everyday, with no idea that the subterranean vault holds more than 540,000 gold bars owned by 48 different countries as well as 12 international organizations.
The bank vault is deep underneath the city streets, and just the gold alone in the vault (it does hold other valuables) is valued at more than $200 billion. It is 30 feet beneath the subway system resting on bedrock about five stories underground. The gold in the New York City Federal Reserve Vault is greater than that of any vault in the world, including Fort Knox.
Surprisingly, the U.S. Government doesn't own much of the gold in this vault. Only approximately 5 percent of the U.S. supply is stored here, while most of it takes up residence at Fort Knox and in other locations throughout the country. The reserves stores all gold free of charge for its tenants, but the countries that deposit gold here must pay out $1.75 per bar when they are moved. Considering that this vault holds 25% of the world's gold reserve, which makes it the largest in the world, and even bigger than the yearly economy of the United Arab Emirates.
The building appears as any other office building in the area of the financial district, but the surface appearance actually hides what is more similar to a medieval fortress on the lowest three floors. These floors have large iron bars covering all of the windows, and there is a circular shaped tower up high on the building. Armed guards wander the surrounding area at all times with automatic weapons, deterring anyone from thinking of trying to pull any funny business. The gold vault is only accessible through a 10-foot passageway cut into the cylinder, which is made of 90 tons of steel and sits within a steel and concrete frame.
There are no cameras allowed in the vault, and people cannot take anything into the vault with them. With all of the cameras, walls, and guns, you would think it was secure enough. The vault is half the size of a football field and was lowered into the bedrock three years before the building was completed in 1924. It is surrounded by solid rock on all sides, and has a way to be sealed airtight and water tight if needed, as well. More than 180 tourists are led through the vault each day, so it's not a super secret place. However, it is the largest and most secure gold vault that you'll come across anywhere in the world.
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