Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, Los Angeles Branch Fed Gallery

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950 S. Grand Avenue,
Los Angeles, CA 90015
Tel: +1(213) 683-2900


The lobby exhibition of the Los Angeles Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, “Fed Gallery: Your Central Bank in Focus,” opened November 2004. It uses interactive technology and vivid graphics highlighting the Federal Reserve’s role in the American economy. Various displays focus on cash and check operations, bank supervision, and monetary policy.

The original Federal Reserve building, built in 1929 and located around the corner at 409 W. Olympic Blvd., is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Currency Collection

Before entering the gallery, visitors can stop by to see some of the rare and valuable United States currency on display. Among the different type notes on display are the 1899 $5-note featuring Sioux Chief Running Antelope and the $500-, $1,000-, $5,000-, and $10,000-bills, which were discontinued printing in 1946 but are still legal tender.

Life of a Banknote

Visitors learn fun and fascinating facts about their money such as: did you know a $1-bill lasts an average of 22 months before it is taken out of circulation? Compare that to a $100-bill which lasts nine years. Worn notes are shredded at the Los Angeles Branch- about $45-million per day- and replaced with currency fit for circulation.

Every day billions of dollars in cash, checks, and wire transfers pass through the Federal Reserve. When visitors touch a glass-screen virtual waterfall, scrolling numbers open to reveal various facts about the payments system. For example, every month 47 million Americans receive social security deposits or checks through the Fed. Visitors will see the second largest cash vault in the U.S., and learn more about the Fed’s role in distributing coins.

Dollar Detectives

Can you spot a fake? At the Los Angeles Branch, specially trained employees inspect banknotes to find potential fakes and take them out of circulation. Visitors can test their dollar savvy at this exhibit of their ability to identify security features on U.S. currency.

When customers walk into their bank, they need to know that their money is safe. Exhibits in this area focus about how the banks and the supervision and regulation duties of the Federal Reserve, help visitors (1) to understand the market forces that regulate banks and (2) how the Fed examines capital, asset quality, management, earnings, liquidity, and sensitivity to ensure that banks manage their risk. Visitors can test their skills as bank examiners using a pachinko-style game to determine the relative risk or safety and soundness of banks.

Monetary Policy

How does the Federal Reserve influence the nation’s financial system to promote a healthy economy? Setting monetary policy is one of the Fed’s most important and visible roles because its decisions affect the nation’s economy. Touch screen computer games feature an interactive Fed Chairman game wherein visitors set the target federal funds rate and watch their decisions play out on the economy. In an adjacent room, a floor-mounted 10-foot screen plays a short video on the Federal Reserve.

This text was written by Howard M. Berlin and first published in his book Numismatourist in 2014.

You can order his numismatic guidebook at Amazon.

Howard M. Berlin has his own website.

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