The Federal Reserve Bank of New York, like its lower Manhattan neighbor, the New York Stock Exchange, is a symbol of American capitalism.

The New York Fed is the most powerful of 12 regional banks that make up the Federal Reserve System, which functions as the nation's central bank. The system regulates the money supply, sets interest rates and oversees banks. Its influence over rates affects everything from the cost of mortgages and credit cards to earnings on savings accounts.

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The New York Fed implements the Federal Reserve's interest rate policy and intervenes in foreign exchange markets to influence the value of the dollar.

"We are charged with managing the nation's monetary policy -- taking actions that raise or lower interest rates to promote full employment and price stability," New York Fed president William C. Dudley told business owners in New Jersey last month. "We [also] play an important role in the nation's payments and settlements system, which you might think of as the plumbing of the financial system."

The basement of the New York Fed headquarters contains the world's largest gold depository. The building, where more than 3,000 people work, was erected after World War I and was modeled to resemble a limestone and sandstone palazzo from Florence, Italy, during the Renaissance.

Theft of the bank's gold was the premise of the 1995 film "Die Hard: With a Vengeance," starring Bruce Willis, Jeremy Irons and Samuel L. Jackson.