CHECK THIS OUT: 10 secrets of the Federal Reserve Bank in Denver

DENVER - What building in downtown Denver, specifically on the 16th Street Mall, has billions in its basement?

It is the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, in Denver.

We took a tour inside and while we can't show you everything, here are 10 secrets of the Federal Reserve Bank.

Secret No. 1: While the building doesn't look like it, it has five stories. Two stories are underground and that's where the money is kept.

Secret No. 2: While we can't show you the basement vault, we can tell you it's the size of the entire building! It can hold approximately 2,450 cash containers.

Each container holds 300,000 notes, no matter the denomination. If each one was filled with $100 bills, it would add up to more than $73.5 billion!

Secret No. 3: While you can see the cash counting room, you can't take pictures, so we took a picture on the ride there. To see the cash counting room (from the outside) you must make arrangements for a guided tour. Guided tours are available for school groups and other groups, but must be prearranged.

Secret No. 4: They do allow the public inside -- almost every day. On the first floor is a small museum called The Money Museum. It is open to the public from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Admission is free, but you have to give security personnel your driver's license since the bank is a secured federal facility.

Secret No. 5: Inside the museum, you may spot this window (seen above) with the Federal Reserve Bank's logo. Look carefully at it...

Those are gun portholes. In the old days, armed security guards would watch visitors from this perch. Now, visitors go through a metal detector and armed guards patrol inside and outside the building.

If you walk around the outside of the building, you'll see more gun portholes.

Secret No. 6: The Denver Federal Reserve bank DESTROYS $2 to $3 million in cash every day! But don't try Dumpster diving here. The money is shredded by the machines in the basement.

The shredded bills are bagged as souvenirs or shipped to a recycling facility where it is turned into compost. Visitors to the Money Museum get a bag for free.

Secret No. 7: Is there really $30 million inside this display in the museum? While this display shows what $30,000,000 looks like, and while the paper is real, it's not printed on. Well, most of it is not printed on. There are 49 "real" $100 bills inside.

Secret No. 8: Has the Denver Federal Reserve Bank ever been robbed? Yes -- and no. While the Federal Reserve Bank was never robbed, one of its trucks was.

Back in 1922, the bank's then location didn't have a large vault, so money was stored at the Denver Mint. On Dec. 18, 1922, four men in a Buick pulled up beside a Federal Reserve truck outside the Denver Mint just as the guards finished loading $200,000. The men robbed the guards and killed one.

It took 12 years until the robbers were identified. About $80,000 of the holdup money was eventually recovered in Minnesota. Read more in this article in The Denver Post.

Secret No. 9: While the Federal Reserve used to print $500 bills, $1,000 bills, $5,000 bills, $100,000 bills and the $10,000 bill seen here, it does not anymore. The largest bill printed today is the $100 bill.

And we have one more secret to share that's not part of the bank, but it is just outside.

Secret No. 10: The sidewalks outside the Federal Reserve Bank "talk" to you. It's called sound walk. As you walk down the 1500 block of Curtis Street, there are speakers under six ordinary-looking grates connected to a tape recorder in a nearby building. Each grate has different sounds. There are 40 to 100 selections per hour, including rumbling, gurgling water, farm animals and other whimsical sounds.

Learn more about sound walk here.

Learn more about the Denver Money Museum here.

Check out more of our secrets of Colorado stories:

Got a place you want us to go inside and learn the secrets of? Email

Print this article Back to Top