Virtual Tour

Then & Now

Review the history of central banking in the U.S. from 1791 to the establishment of the Federal Reserve and beyond.

Then & Now panels1791–1811:  A penniless young country takes a tentative step into central banking.

1816–1836:  Central banking gets a second chance, but again it doesn’t last.

1836–1860:  State banks’ notes serve as currency but also bring financial confusion.

1861–1912:  A more uniform national currency emerges from the Civil War.

1913–1914:  Repeated financial failures prompt Congress to establish a decentralized central bank.

1930s:  The Great Depression reshapes the role of government, the financial system, and the Fed.

1940s–1970s:  Fed policy becomes independent again and economic goals become clearer.

1960s–1980s:  Congress expands the Fed’s role in consumer protection.

1980s–2000:  Deregulation of banking shapes the financial system and the Fed's role.