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Washington D.C is the nation's capital and the center of political power. So, when coming to Washington D.C, you should definitely set aside some time to visit some important government structures. One of the most interesting buildings to visit and one of the most visited government agencies in Washington D.C is the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. Almost every student in the district's metropolitan area visits this building during a school field trip and many tourists love to come see actual money bring printed.
The Bureau of Engraving and Printing is responsible for developing and printing billions of Dollars in US currency each year to deliver to the Federal Reserve which acts as the country's Central Bank. The money is then distributed to banks and the Federal Reserve ensures that there is always an adequate amount of money in circulation. The Bureau of Engraving and Printing does not produce coins anymore and the latter are made by the United States Mint.
The Bureau of Engraving and Printing goes back to the Civil War era when the government was looking to create paper currency to fund the war. Paper bills called Demand Notes were created by a private firm and later sent to the U.S Treasury to be signed and distributed. The Bureau of Engraving and Printing came into existence in 1874 when Congress officially recognized it and allocated some funds for its operations. Besides printing currency, the bureau at the time also made other items such as passport and money orders for the Post Office department. In 1864, it began printing postage stamps.
The Bureau of Engraving and Printing is a fascinating place to visit, and the best part is you can actually watch as money is being produced and developed in real time. The agency provides public tours to visitors at the DC Tour and Visitor Center. These are free and are offered on a daily basis, except for weekends, federal holidays and the week between Christmas and New Year's Day.
During the non-peak season from September until February, no tickets are required for the tourof the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. But during the peak season from the first Monday in March until the last Friday in August, free tickets are required. Tickets can be picked up at the ticket booth on Raoul Wallenberg Place which opens at 8 am and closes when all tickets are sold. Tickets can sell out quickly, especially during the Cherry Blossom. Lines open as early as 5:30 am.
The tour itself is approximately 40 minutes long and introduces you to many important sites at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. At the beginning of the tour, you will watch an introductory video and get a gallery tour of the currency production process. Then, you will be able to see the actual production floor of the currency and watch as millions of dollars are being printed right under your nose. Finally, visitors can explore all the different currency displays and exhibits or buy currency products and souvenirs for sale.
The Bureau of Engraving and Printing is located on 14th and C St SW in Washington D.C