The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia opened on Nov. 16, 1914, with 24 employees, less than $6 million in deposits from member banks, and an uncertain future.

One hundred years later, the eight-story Independence Mall fixture - one of 12 banks that, along with the board of governors, makes up the nation's Federal Reserve System - marks a milestone in its history of helping the nation through some of its most difficult financial times, from double-digit inflation to the most recent recession.

The Philadelphia bank now employs 950, and its member banks in Eastern Pennsylvania, South Jersey, and Delaware had $27.8 billion in deposits as of the first quarter of 2014.

"Today is the day that all 12 banks around the nation opened their doors," Charles Plosser, who became CEO of the Philadelphia Reserve Bank in 2006, said Sunday at a celebration of its reaching triple digits. "So it's sort of a culmination of this centennial year."

The reserve bank offers a dazzling array of statistics in its ground floor exhibit.

How long would it take to count $50 million, $1 at a time?

Nineteen months.

Every year, $60 billion in old and new currency and coins pass in and out of the bank.

On average, the bank's vault - about the size of a football field - holds about $5 billion.

Ever wonder about the average life span of that crinkled dollar bill in your pocket? That would be 5.9 years, the bank says.

But $100 bills (you probably have fewer of those) live longer - up to 15 years.

This one will break your heart: That 25-foot tower in the bank lobby really is filled with shredded money. One hundred million dollars.

Every year, the bank destroys about $2.5 billion in worn currency - more than $48 million a week.

Talk about burning through it.

At Sunday's event, Deputy Mayor Alan Greenberger read a city proclamation to some of the more than 330 employees, retirees, and their family members and friends who attended.

"Who says bankers don't work on Sunday?" Greenberger asked, looking out over the audience as he touted the bank's contributions to the economic health and vitality of the city and region.

Since the 1980s, the bank increasingly has become involved in projects to help low- and moderate-income communities by doing research and sharing information on issues such as home-ownership counseling and student-loan debt. It also trains educators how best to teach personal finance, said Theresa Singleton, vice president of community development studies and education.

In addition to Greenberger's proclamation, several current and former bank leaders offered remarks on the history of the institution, which helps make monetary policy and supervises banks.

Today's Reserve Bank system is actually the nation's third try at having a central bank, Plosser said. Previous banks failed because they lacked public trust, he said, adding that the Reserve Bank's recent history had been some of its most interesting.

"Our 100 years occurs in the midst of a grinding down of an extraordinary episode in our nation's economic history," Plosser said. "It's been quite challenging over the last few years."

He recalled how the Fed responded creatively to the crisis.

"This is going to be another one of those episodes that people are going to look back on and try to understand better for a long time," he said in an interview.

Edward Boehne, who led the bank for 19 years until he retired in 2000, aimed his remarks at the future. For the bank to reach its bicentennial, it needs to be protected from political pressure "because what is best is not always popular."

He also called for "the highest standards of integrity and ethical behavior" and non-partisan behavior. The bank's employees, he said, must remain high-caliber and its regional structure intact.

Rhonda Shire, an IT project manager who has the distinction of being the bank's longest-serving employee, with 47 years, attended the event.

"I'm so excited," she said of the 100-year history, of which she has been a part for nearly half that time. "It's been a great place to work."

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