Wall Street, a narrow street in lower Manhattan between Broadway and the East River, was the first permanent home of the New York Stock Exchange, as well as the one-time headquarters for all of the major banks and brokerage houses in the United States. Although, all of the brokerages have moved elsewhere – to other quarters in New York’s financial district, New Jersey, and Connecticut – the term, “Wall Street” is still synonymous with the US financial markets.
Wall Street got its name in the 17th century, when it was the northern boundary of the original Dutch “New Amsterdam” settlement on Manhattan. There actually was, at one time, a wall on Wall Street. Wall Street and the surrounding New York financial district grew up around the New York Stock Exchange. At one time, virtually all of the US banks and brokerages were based in this small area. At the height of the “Gilded Age” in the late 19th and early 20th century, the area was known as the “House of Morgan”, referring to JP Morgan, the country’s largest bank and financier.
The attack on the World Trade Center in September 2001, has had the effect of speeding the exodus of companies from the concentrated financial district. Banks and brokerage headquarters can now be found all throughout suburban New York City.
New York Stock Exchange
The New York Stock Exchange, located at 11 Wall Street, is the largest stock exchange in the world. Its global capitalization is roughly 20 trillion dollars. The NYSE traces its history back to an event 1792, when 24 brokers and bankers signed the “Buttonwood Agreement”, named for a buttonwood tree that stood at the end of Wall Street. This agreement set into motion the creation of the system of buying and selling stocks that became the NYSE. Unlike the high-tech NASDAQ marketplace, at Times Square, the NYSE today operates much as it did 100 years ago, in an auction format with buyers and sellers’ agents meeting and deciding on a price right on the exchange’s trading floor.
Visiting Wall Street and the NYSE
Wall Street and the New York Financial District make a nice New York walking tour. The area is easily accessible from all parts of the city via subway, bus, and taxi.
Also within the financial district, at the corner of Wall St. and Nassau St., is Federal Hall National Memorial, the home of the first United States capital and the site of George Washington’s Presidential inauguration. Continuing along Wall Street to the East River, you come to South Street Seaport, a favorite of residents and visitors alike. This historic area was once the site of the Fulton fish market where the New York fishing fleet returned from their day in the harbor and sold their wares. Today, it is a combination shopping mall, museum, and entertainment complex, with spectacular views and a fleet of historic sailing ships.
Also not far from the financial district, at the tip of Manhattan, is Battery Park, a 32-acre waterfront, mixed-use park, which offers spectacular views of Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty in the distance.
A visit to Wall Street and the New York financial district is an interesting diversion from New York museums and shopping. The area’s imposing facades and rich history, capped with the spectacular views from the tip of Manhattan made a trip to Wall Street a must for any New York sightseeing trip.
Location: at 11 Wall Street, New York City, New York
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