After the visit to the WTC, I headed next to the direction of the NYSE. Lower Manhattan is really small and compact. Seems to me like everything is about 5 minutes walk from one place to another.
I wanted to check out the Federal Reserve Bank. It is here that a quarter of the world’s known gold bullion is stored deep inside this building. There are 10s of billions of dollars worth of gold bar stored 5 stories underground. The gold here are mostly owned by governments and international organizations around the world. As countries made payments to each other, gold bars could simply be wheeled from one country’s vault to the next. This is not the only Reserve Banks in the US … this is one of twelve but this is the biggest of all.
My guide book says that there is a exhibition of “The History of Money” and is opened for visitors but I just could not find the entrance. Every door seems to be heavily locked … no opened welcoming doors. I am guessing that they do not open for visitors anymore after 9-11. Anyone could confirm this?
Security around the New York Stock Exchange is really tight. All around the block, there are barricades designed in the form of street art. Also, there are not only policemen but there are heavily armed SWAT team patrolling the place. They are armed to their teeth. I wanted to take a picture of them but had second thoughts!
Right in front NYSE is the Federal House, where the bronze statue of George Washington looks on down Wall Street.
It is on these steps of the Federal House that George Washington took his oath as the first President of the United States in 1789. I had once assumed that George Washington would have taken his oath in Washington DC. But I later found out that it was not until 1800 that Washington DC is established as the permanent capital of the country. Sixteen other locations and cities were considered as the US capital before 1800.
I guess the significance of the Federal House had diminished over the years. There are lots of tourists teeming around Wall Street but only a handful of people actually ventured up the steps to go into the Federal House. There was not a lot of things to see anyway here. I just took 15 minutes looking over the exhibits.
I so dearly wanted to go into the NYSE … you know, seeing with my own eyes what the famed Trading Floor of the NYSE is really like. My guidebook did say that there is a public viewing gallery but the entrances are all barricaded and heavy security checks every person that goes in and out of the building. I understand why the security post 9-11. If the NYSE is taken out, the gargantuan economy of the US will probably grind to a halt.
But like I said … there were lots of tourists and the streets around here have this carnival atmosphere. And that is despite the presence of a SWAT team.
Interestingly enough, there were actually a lot of chairs and tables setup on the street just in front of the NYSE. So, I decided to go get myself a NYC type snack. There are a lot of street carts on many street corners selling Giant Pretzels all over the city. It was pretty expensive to me ($2) but I think it’s because I got it right smack in the middle of a tourist district.
I had one that had lots of coarse salt on it. Yucks … too much salt! I wiped off all the salt and finished off the giant pretzel. Was it good? No … not at all.
Then I went around searching for the Charging Bull sculpture. It took me a while because I would have thought that it is just around Wall Street. I finally found it on the Bowling Green park. This bull is by itself a tourist destination. It was pretty hard to get a good shot of it because there were lots of people waiting to pose in front of the bull.
For some reason, people likes to rub bronze sculptures. You know where the favorite parts everyone rubs … the head for obvious reason. I realize that the balls were shinier than all other parts!
One favorite pose had people pull their jackets over their heads and then sticking it into the butt of the bull.
I headed to Chinatown and Little Italy next …