The Federal Reserve system came into existence when President Woodrow Wilson signed the act establishing it into law in 1913. Congress sought through the Federal Reserve Act to provide a stabilizing force in the national economy after numerous bank failures, financial panics, and long-term episodes of scarce credit.
Serving as the nation’s central bank, the Federal Reserve oversees monetary policy in order to sustain healthy levels of employment, interest rates, and pricing. It promotes secure and efficient payments throughout the banking sector, and administers regulatory practices that benefit ordinary consumers.
There are 12 Federal Reserve Banks, each located in its own district, based on the major trading regions that obtained when the system was created. Because the district lines were drawn a century ago, they do not necessarily fall along strict state boundaries.
Atlanta and the other Federal Reserve cities--Boston, New York, Saint Louis, and San Francisco among them--are locations with long histories at the heart of the financial sector.