Wall Street. Road in New York City, New York

Wall Street

Road in New York City, New York

Wall Street Photo © I3aac

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Wall Street

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	Street in lockdown - Wall Street
Wall Street in lockdown - Wall Street. Photo by Dan Nguyen
Wall Street is one of the most famous streets in New York City and arguably even in the world. The street extends along eight city blocks from Broadway to South Street in Lower Manhattan. It is the beating heart of the financial district in New York and has come to be a metonym for capitalism in the United States.

It is home to the largest stock exchange on the planet, the New York Stock Exchange. Many other exchanges are based on Wall Street as well. Examples are the New York Board of Trade and NASDAQ (Wikipedia Article). Wall Street and, by expansion, New York City as a whole is often regarded as the world’s main financial hub.


The name Wall Street comes from the Dutch Waal Straat – New York City was founded by the Dutch. There are two versions of the origins of that Dutch name. The first one is the most accepted one. It says that the name Waal Straat is derived from the earthen wall that formed the northern boundary of the settlement of New Amsterdam. The second explanation is that the street was named after a group of Walloons that lived there. Walloon – nowadays an inhabitant of French-speaking Belgium – is “Waal” in Dutch. Evidence that supports this hypothesis is that a ship called Nieu Nederlandt brought the first group of settlers to New Amsterdam, among them thirty Walloon families.

NYSE - New York Stock Exchange - Wall
NYSE - New York Stock Exchange - Wall Street. Photo by peterkreder

Wall Street in lockdown
	- Wall Street
Wall Street in lockdown - Wall Street. Photo by Dan Nguyen
By the end of the 18th century, and after the Revolutionary War, Wall Street had become a center of all kinds of trade. For example, a large buttonwood tree at the end of the street was the place where speculators and traders met to trade securities. They formalized their association with the Buttonwood Agreement (Wikipedia Article). That agreement was the first step towards the New York Stock Exchange.

George Washington, the first President of the United States, took his oath on the balcony of Federal Hall on Wall Street in 1789. Federal Hall was also where the Bill of Rights was passed, making the street a hugely significant part of American history.

The tip of Lower Manhattan became increasingly business-minded in the course of the 19th century, causing many people to move to the northern suburbs. This resulted in further expansion of the city and in the establishment of now-famous places like Times Square. After the Civil War, New York City had become a major center of trade and industry. People such as J.P. Morgan and John D. Rockefeller set up their businesses in the city.

An important man in the creation of the modern-day stock market was Charles H. Dow (Wikipedia
	Article), who in 1884 began keeping track of eleven stocks, mainly of the booming railroads. He worked out a way to properly analyze the markets. His Dow Jones average became the accepted way to look at all stock markets. Nowadays, Wall Street consists of towering skyscrapers, ArtDeco buildings, luxury apartments, a few hotels, and a few stores. It still is mainly a financial center.

New York Stock Exchange / (NYSE) - Wall Street
New York Stock Exchange / (NYSE) - Wall Street. Photo by George Rex

Visiting Wall Street

Federal Hall (1) - Wall
Federal Hall (1) - Wall Street. Photo by Randy McDonald
Wall Street is definitely an interesting place to visit and in fact one of the major landmarks in New York City. The famous Wall Street Bull, for example, is a much-photographed statue in the city.

However, what you see on Wall Street depends on when you visit and from where you see it. It’s good to know that it is impossible to see the tops of a lot of skyscrapers from the street itself. If you want to properly see the individual buildings, it is advised to take a Circle Boat tour and have a guide point them out. Wall Street gets very crowded during weekdays when the stock exchange is open; stocks are traded between 9.30 AM and 4.00 PM, which is when the street is filled with office workers, traders, bankers, and businessmen. It is usually possible to visit the lobbies of the historic buildings, but be prepared to be refused. The 9/11 events have increased security a great deal.

A great way to see more of Wall Street is by going on a guided walking tour. There are several available tours; the most popular are the Financial Crisis Tour, History of Wall Street Tour, 9/11 Ground Zero Tour and American History Tour. These tours take in all historic and present-day landmarks and sites.

Examples of such highlights on Wall Street and in the Financial District are Federal Hall, the site of Occupy Wall Street, the New York Stock Exchange, Ground Zero, Stone Street, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the Museum of American Finance, Fraunces Tavern Museum, the Skyscraper Museum, Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House and the Woolworth Building.

Wall St -
	Wall Street
Wall St - Wall Street. Photo by Jonathan Percy

How to Get There

Lower Manhattan can be reached by all types of public transport: subway, buses, trains and ferries. The most convenient way to get to the Financial District is by subway. The three nearest subway stops are Wall Street on the 2 and 3 trains, Wall Street on the 4 and 5 trains, and Broad Street on the J and Z trains.

Similar Landmarks

New York City is chock-full of major landmarks. Examples in the Wall Street area are the Brooklyn Bridge, One World Trade Center, the Statue of Liberty, and Battery Park.

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Author: bramreusen. Last updated: Feb 28, 2015

Pictures of Wall Street

Wall Street - Wall Street
Wall Street - Photo by Chris Brown


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