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Natsios Young Architects

26 February 2006

Birdseyes from


East Rutherford Operations Center
100 Orchard Street
East Rutherford, NJ 07073-2002
(201) 531-3269

The East Rutherford Operations Center is a major processing center for currency, checks, and wire transfers. On an annual basis, approximately $200 billion in cash and $900 billion in checks goes through the facility. Typically, the vaults there hold more than $60 billion in cash. The center also plays a central role in the daily electronic transfer of over a trillion dollars in funds and securities.

Federal Reserve Bank East Rutherford Operations Center
and Federal Reserve Bank New York

EROC Looking North

EROC Looking East

EROC Looking East

EROC Looking South

EROC Looking West

Federal Reserve Bank New York


The gold stored at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York is secured in a most unusual vault. It rests on the bedrock of Manhattan Island — one of the few foundations considered adequate to support the weight of the vault, its door, and the gold inside — 80 feet below street level and 50 feet below sea level. In mid - 2004, the Fed’s vault contained roughly 266 million troy ounces of gold (1 troy oz. is 1.1 times as heavy as the avoirdupois ounce, with which we are more familiar), representing 25 to 30 percent of the world’s official monetary gold reserves. At the time, the vault gold’s value was $9.5 billion at the official U.S. Government price of $42.2222 per troy ounce, or about $90 billion at the market price of $400 an ounce. At the current official U.S. Government price, one of the vault’s gold bars (approximately 27.4 pounds) is valued at about $17,000. At a $400 market price, the same bar is worth about $160,000.

Foreign governments and official international organizations store their gold at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York because of their confidence in its safety, the convenient services the Bank offers, and its location in one of the world’s leading financial capitals. Confidence results from the Bank’s being part of the Federal Reserve System — the nation’s central bank and an independent governmental entity. The political stability and economic strength of the United States, as well as the physical security provided by the Bank’s vault, also are important factors. Convenience comes from the fact that the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, in addition to handling foreign financial transactions for the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the Federal Reserve System, executes many other financial transactions in the United States for foreign central banks. The attractiveness of the Bank’s geographic location is that gold deposited in the trade and financial capital of the world’s largest economy enables countries to engage in transactions of all sizes easily, quickly, and inexpensively.

Storing almost $90 billion of gold makes extensive security measures mandatory at the New York Fed. An important measure is the background investigation required of all Bank employees. Continuous supervision by the vault control group also prevents problems from arising by ensuring that proper security procedures are followed. The Bank and its vaults are secured by the Bank’s own uniformed protection force. Periodically, each guard must qualify with a revolver on the Bank’s firing range. Although the minimum requirement is a marksman’s score, most qualify as experts. In addition, the Bank’s guards must be proficient with other weapons.

Security also is provided by closed-circuit television monitors and by an electronic surveillance system that alerts the central guardroom when a vault door is opened or closed. The alarm system can signal guards to seal all security areas and Bank exits, which can be closed within seconds. The gold also is secured by the vault’s design, which is a masterpiece of protective engineering. The vault is actually the bottom floor of a three-story bunker of vaults arranged like strongboxes stacked on top of one another. The massive walls surrounding the vault are made of a steel-reinforced structural concrete. There are no doors into the gold vault. Entry is through a narrow ten-foot passageway cut in a delicately balanced, nine-feet-tall, 90-ton steel cylinder that revolves vertically in a 140-ton, steel-and-concrete frame. The vault is opened and closed by rotating the cylinder 90 degrees. An airtight and watertight seal is achieved by lowering the slightly tapered cylinder three-eighths of an inch into the frame, which is similar to pushing a cork down into a bottle. The cylinder is secured in place when two levers insert large bolts, four recessed in each side of the frame, into the cylinder. By unlocking a series of time and combination locks, Bank personnel can open the vault the next business day. The locks are under “multiple control” — no one individual has all the combinations necessary to open the vault. The weight of the gold — just over 27 pounds per bar — makes it difficult to lift or carry and obviates the need to search vault employees and visitors before they leave the vault. Nor do they have to be checked for specks of gold. Gold is relatively soft, but not so soft that particles will stick to clothing or shoes, or can be scraped from the bars. The Bank’s security arrangements are so trusted by depositors that few have ever asked to examine their gold.





Composite photos caused variation in perspectives. Most of the FRB NY headquarters is behind the adjoining high-rise, JP Morgan Chase Bank.

FRB NY Looking West

FRB NY Looking East

FRB NY Looking South

FRB NY Looking North