Seattle branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco closes its downtown location on February 20, 2008.

  • By Jennifer Ott
  • Posted 10/10/2008
  • Essay 8809

On February 20, 2008 the Seattle Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco closes its building in downtown Seattle. Operations move to a new location in Renton at the former Longacres Racetrack site. The bank, which handles currency and provides financial services to banks, outgrew its building at 2nd Avenue and Madison Street. Security concerns prompted by the September 2001 terrorist attacks also led to the move.

When the building opened in January 1951, the bank could not fill its 110,000 square feet. The Federal Bureau of Investigation occupied a portion of the unused offices. A teller lobby filled a large part of the first floor. An article about the opening touted the loading dock, which could accommodate six armored trucks. A two-story vault offered ample room for the currency the bank handled.

After 2000, it became apparent that the branch operations had outgrown their space. Bank staff occupied all the available offices and filled the cubicles in the now-unused teller lobby.  The vault and cash processing equipment could no longer handle the volume of currency the bank processed. A dearth of space in the loading dock led to lines of armored cars waiting along Spring Street.

In 2002 the bank installed concrete planters along 2nd Avenue to increase security at the front entrance. In 2006 metal fences and new concrete planters were added to the exterior of the building. Despite those measures, according to Donald L. Kohn, Vice Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank's board of directors in San Francisco, "the building's general layout and construction did not meet the post-9/11 security requirements necessary for protecting Federal Reserve System employees and operations" ("Dedication Remarks").

Bank managers looked in Seattle for a new location but found that none of the available locations met the branch's needs. Looking farther afield in the metropolitan area, they decided upon the Longacres Office Park in Renton, site of the former Longacres Racetrack. The building is slightly smaller, but the space is configured to accommodate equipment that would not fit into the old building. The site and the building design meet current security standards.

Sources: Howard H. Preston, "A Milestone in Washington State Federal Reserve Banking," Pacific Northwest Industry, January 1951, pp. 92-95; Donald L. Kohn, "Dedication Remarks," Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco website accessed October 4, 2008 (; "Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, Seattle Branch Fact Sheet," Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco website accessed September 19, 2008 (; "Landmark Nomination of the Federal Reserve Bank Seattle," May 2008,  BOLA Architecture + Planning, 320 Terry Avenue N, Seattle;  "Seattle Branch Holds Open House," 12-L News, February 1951, Archives of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco; "Summary for 1015 2nd AVE / Parcel ID 0939000520," Department of Neighborhoods Historical Sites Database website accessed September 18, 2008 (

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