Money Museum, banking
The turn of the 19th century in the United States brought the first efforts of a national banking system. Congress had the first paper money printed in America to fund the Revolutionary War. The first bank opened in 1791 after a push by Alexander Hamilton – the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury. Following a few trials and tribulations (you know, President Andrew Jackson avowing to destroy the banking system in 1828, inflation and national financial crises), the Federal Reserve was finally established in 1913 with President Woodrow Wilson’s Federal Reserve Act. The rest, of course, is history.
What exactly is the Federal Reserve, anyway? It “is the central bank of the United States. It was created by the Congress to provide the nation with a safer, more flexible, and more stable monetary and financial system,” the Federal Reserve website explains. Kansas City, Mo., herself is home to our own Federal Reserve Bank branch – only 12 branches exist throughout America. Serving the 10th Federal Reserve District, the bank (now located at 1 Memorial Drive) handles surrounding states such as Kansas, Oklahoma, Colorado, Wyoming and Nebraska.
The often-simply-referred-to-as-the-“Fed” in Kansas City first debuted in November of 1914, in the R.A. Long building, 928 Grand. In November of 1921, a newer, bigger, better bank replaced the Long building as Fed headquarters, though it only moved across the street… literally. 925 Grand. Our own hometown President Harry S. Truman kept an office in the building for several years before his namesake library was erected.
By the time plans were announced for a new Federal Reserve Bank in 2002, the 925 Grand bank was the longest operating branch of the 12 in business. But it was sold, and the hill atop 29th and Main Streets (just near the Liberty Memorial) transformed; the brand new, beautiful snowy Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City (completed in 2008) stands tall and proud.
Within, millions upon unfathomable millions of dollars flow through each day, with the aid of the United States’ vastest automatic vault. Robots work in said vault, three of them in fact; named Huey, Dewey and Louie in memory of Kansas City native Walt Disney. Visitors can tour the Money Museum, featuring President Truman’s private coin collection, bars of gold for the holding and admiring and a bad of shredded bills as an exiting keepsake.
Without, “two 3-D, 12-foot bronze statues – the Sprits of Commerce and Industry – flank our main entrance as a tribute to the hand-carved stone panels from the early 1900s that adorned the façade of our former building. Three water geysers surrounding the statues represent our three mission areas and serve as a tribute to Kansas City, the “City of Fountains,”” says the Kansas City Branch of the Federal Reserve.
An historic institution now exists in a state-of-the-art building, leaving a legacy forever imprinted on Grand Ave., and creating a new one at Memorial Drive.