Wall Street

Wall Street

Wall Street is a street in lower Manhattan, New York City, United States. It runs east from Broadway to South Street on the East River, through the historical center of the Financial District. Wall Street was the first permanent home of the New York Stock Exchange; over time "Wall Street" became the name of the surrounding geographic neighborhood. [ [http://www.nyc.gov/html/dcp/pdf/lucds/mn1profile.pdf Profile of Manhattan Community Board 1] , retrieved July 17, 2007.] Wall Street is also shorthand (or a metonym) for the "influential financial interests" of the American financial industry, which is centered in the New York City area. [ [http://mw1.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/Wall%20Street Merriam-Webster Online] , retrieved July 17, 2007.] Several major U.S. stock and other exchanges remain headquartered on Wall Street and in the Financial District, including the NYSE, NASDAQ, AMEX, NYMEX, and NYBOT.


The name of the street derives from the fact that during the 17th century, Wall Street formed the northern boundary of the New Amsterdam settlement. In the 1640s basic picket and plank fences denoted plots and residences in the colony. [The History of New York State, Book II, Chapter II, Part IV.] Editor, Dr. James Sullivan, Online Edition by Holice, Deb & Pam. Retrieved 20 August 2006.] Later, on behalf of the Dutch West India Company, Peter Stuyvesant, in part using African slaves, [ [http://www.slaveryinnewyork.org/PDFs/White_New_Yorkers.pdf White New Yorkers in Slave Times] New York Historical Society. Retrieved 20 August 2006. (PDF)] led the Dutch in the construction of a stronger stockade. A strengthened convert|12|ft|m|0|sing=on wall [http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/crash/timeline/ Timeline: A selected Wall Street chronology] PBS Online, 21 October 2004. Retrieved 20 August 2006] of timber and earth was created by 1653 fortified by palisades. The wall was created, and strengthened over time, as a defense against attack from various Native American tribes, New England colonists, and the British. In 1685 surveyors laid out Wall Street along the lines of the original stockade. [http://www.nyse.com/about/history/timeline_chronology_index.html NYSE Timeline] 2006 NYSE Group, Inc. Retrieved 19 August 2006.] The wall was dismantled by the British in 1699. And while the original name referred to the Walloons, the French speaking Belgians that helped populate this settlement in the beginning, the name was now easily taken to refer to the wall that once was here.

In the late 18th century, there was a buttonwood tree at the foot of Wall Street under which traders and speculators would gather to trade informally. In 1792, the traders formalized their association with the Buttonwood Agreement. This was the origin of the New York Stock Exchange. [ [http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/today/jan04.html Today in History: January 4 - The New York Stock Exchange] The Library of Congress. Retrieved 19 August 2006.]

In 1789, Federal Hall and Wall Street was the scene of the United States' first presidential inauguration. George Washington took the oath of office on the balcony of Federal Hall overlooking Wall Street on April 30, 1789. This was also the location of the passing of the Bill Of Rights

In 1889, the original stock report, "Customers' Afternoon Letter", became the "The Wall Street Journal", named in reference to the actual street, it is now an influential international daily business newspaper published in New York City. [ [http://www.dowjones.com/TheCompany/History/History.htm DOW JONES HISTORY - THE LATE 1800s] 2006 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Retrieved 19 August 2006.] For many years, it had the widest circulation of any newspaper in the United States, although it is currently second to "USA Today". [cite web |url=http://www.robertfulford.com/WallStreetJournal.html |title=The Wall Street Journal redesigns itself |accessdate=2006-08-19 |last=Fulford |first=Robert |coauthors= |date=2002-04-20 |work= |publisher=] It is owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. since 2007.

Decline and revitalization

The Manhattan Financial District is one of the largest business districts in the United States, and second in New York City only to Midtown. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the corporate culture of New York was a primary center for the construction of skyscrapers (rivaled only by Chicago). The Financial District, even today, actually makes up a distinct skyline of its own, separate from but not soaring to quite the same heights as its midtown counterpart a few miles to the north.

Built in 1914, 23 Wall Street was known as the "House of Morgan" and for decades the bank's headquarters was the most important address in American finance. At noon, on September 16, 1920, a bomb exploded in front of the bank, killing 38 and injuring 300. Shortly before the bomb went off a warning note was placed in a mailbox at the corner of Cedar Street and Broadway. While theories abound about who was behind the Wall Street bombing and why they did it, after twenty years investigating the matter, the FBI rendered the file inactive in 1940 without ever finding the perpetrators. 1929 brought the "Great Crash" of the stock market, ushering in the Great Depression. During this era, new development of the Financial District had stagnated. The construction of the World Trade Center was one of the few major projects undertaken during the last three quarters of the 20th century and, financially, it was not originally as successful as planned. Some point to the fact that it was actually a government-funded project, constructed by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey with the intention of spurring economic development in downtown. All the tools necessary to international trade were to be housed in the complex. However, at the beginning much of the space remained vacant.

Nonetheless, some large and powerful firms did purchase space in the World Trade Center. Further, it attracted other powerful businesses to the immediate neighborhood. In some ways, it could be argued that the World Trade Center changed the nexus of the Financial District from Wall Street to the Trade Center complex. When the World Trade Center was destroyed in the September 11, 2001 attacks, it left somewhat of an architectural void as new developments since the 1970s had played off the complex aesthetically. The attacks, however, contributed to the loss of business on Wall Street, due to temporary-to-permanent relocation to New Jersey and further decentralization with establishments transferred to cities like Chicago and Boston.

Wall Street itself and the Financial District as a whole are crowded with highrises by any measure. Further, the loss of the World Trade Center has actually spurred development in the Financial District on a scale that hasn't been seen in decades. This is in part due to tax incentives provided by the federal, state and local governments to encourage development. A new World Trade Center complex, centered on Daniel Liebeskind's Memory Foundations plan, is in the early stages of development and one building has already been replaced. The centerpiece to this plan is the convert|1776|ft|m|0|sing=on tall Freedom Tower. New residential buildings are already sprouting up, and buildings that were previously office space are being converted to residential units, also benefiting from the tax incentives. Better access to the Financial District is planned in the form of a new commuter rail station and a new downtown transportation center centered on Fulton Street.

Wall Street's culture is often criticized as being rigid. This is a decades-old stereotype stemming from the Wall Street's establishment's protection of their interests, and the link to the WASP establishment. More recent criticism has centered on structural problems and lack of a desire to change well-established habits. Wall Street's establishment resists government oversight and regulation. At the same time, New York City has a reputation as a very bureaucratic city, which makes entry into the neighborhood difficult or even impossible for middle class entrepreneurs.

Since the founding of the Federal Reserve banking system, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in the Financial District has been the point where monetary policy in the United States is implemented (although it is decided in Washington, D.C. by the Federal Reserve Bank's Board of Governors). As such, New York State is today unique in that it is the only state that constitutes its own district of the Federal Reserve Banking system. This is perhaps partly owed to population distribution in the United States of the time, however. Until the 1960s, New York was the most populated state in the U.S.; it now ranks third, behind California and Texas. The NY Federal Reserve's president is the only regional Bank president with a permanent vote and is traditionally selected as its vice chairman. The bank has a gold vault 80 feet (25 m) beneath the street. This depository is the largest in the world, larger even than Fort Knox.


Wall Street's architecture is generally rooted in the Gilded Age, though there are also some art deco influences in the neighborhood. Landmark buildings on Wall Street include Federal Hall, 14 Wall Street (Bankers Trust Company Building), 40 Wall Street (The Trump Building), and the New York Stock Exchange at the corner of Broad Street.


Over the years, certain elite persons associated with Wall Street have become famous, even legendary, thereby joining the ranks of the investirati. Although their reputations are usually limited to members of the stock brokerage and banking communities, several have gained national and international fame. Some earned their fame for their investment strategies, financing, reporting, legal or regulatory skills, while others are remembered for their greed. One of the most iconic representations of the market prosperity is the "Charging Bull" sculpture, by Arturo Di Modica. Representing the bull market economy, the sculpture was originally placed in front of the New York Stock Exchange, and subsequently moved to its current location in Bowling Green.

Cultural influence

Wall Street vs. Main Street

As a figure of speech contrasted to "Main Street," the term "Wall Street" can refer to big business interests against those of small business and the working or middle class. It is sometimes used more specifically to refer to research analysts, shareholders, and financial institutions such as investment banks. The idea of "Main Street" conjures up images of locally owned businesses and banks. While the phrase "Wall Street" is commonly used interchangeably with the phrase "Corporate America", it is also sometimes used in contrast to distinguish between the interests, culture, and lifestyles of investment banks and those of Fortune 500 industrial or service corporations.


The older skyscrapers often were built with elaborate facades; such elaborate aesthetics haven't been common in corporate architecture for decades. The World Trade Center, built in the 1970s, was very plain and utilitarian in comparison (the Twin Towers were often criticized as looking like two big boxes, despite their impressive height).

Wall Street, more than anything, represents financial and economic power. To Americans, Wall Street can sometimes represent elitism and power politics and cut-throat capitalism, but it also stirs feelings of pride about the market economy. Wall Street became the symbol of a country and economic system that many Americans see as having developed not through colonialism and plunder, but through trade, capitalism, and innovation. [Fraser (2005).]

In popular culture

*Herman Melville's classic short story "Bartleby the Scrivener" is subtitled "A Story of Wall Street" and provides an excellent portrayal of a kind and wealthy lawyer's struggle to reason with that which is unreasonable as he is pushed beyond his comfort zone to "feel" something real for humanity.
*In William Faulkner's novel "The Sound and the Fury", Jason Compson hits on other perceptions of Wall Street: after finding some of his stocks are doing poorly, he blames the Jews.
*On January 26, 2000, the band Rage Against The Machine filmed the music video for "Sleep Now in the Fire" on Wall Street, which was directed by Michael Moore. The band at one point stormed the Stock Exchange, causing the doors of the Exchange to be closed early (2:52 P.M.). Trading on the Exchange floor, however, continued uninterrupted. [cite web | title=Rage Against The Machine Shoots New Video With Michael Moore | work=MTV News | url=http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1433553/20000128/rage_against_the_machine.jhtml | last=Basham | first=David | date=2000-01-28 | accessdate=2007-09-24] [cite web | title=NYSE special closings since 1885| url=http://www.nyse.com/pdfs/closings.pdf | format=PDF | accessdate=2007-09-24]
*The film "Wall Street" exemplifies many popular conceptions of Wall Street, being a tale of shady corporate dealings and insider trading. [ [http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0094291/ IMDb entry for Wall Street] Retrieved 19 August 2006.]
*In the film National Treasure a clue to finding the Templar Treasure leads the main characters to Wall Street's Trinity Church.
*TNA Wrestler Robert Roode is billed from "Wall Street in Manhattan, New York".


Because Wall Street was historically a commuter destination, it has seen much transportation infrastructure developed with it in mind. Today, Pier 11 at the foot of the street is a busy ferry terminal, and the New York City subway has three stations under Wall Street itself:
*Wall Street (IRT Broadway-Seventh Avenue Line) at Wall Street & William Street
*Wall Street (IRT Lexington Avenue Line) at Wall Street & Broadway
*Broad Street (BMT Nassau Street Line) at Wall Street & Broad Street

Financial districts worldwide

Wall street is most closely rivaled by the City of London (London's "Square Mile", also known as "The City", the original city at the heart of Greater London). Other notable financial districts around the world include:
*Tokyo's Marunouchi
*Singapore's Shenton Way at Raffles Place,
*Chicago's Chicago Loop,
*San Francisco's Financial District
*Hong Kong's Central,
*Shanghai's Lujiazui in Pudong,
*Paris's La Défense,
*Frankfurt's Bankenviertel,
*Toronto's Bay Street,
*Seoul's Teheranno,
*Athens's Sofokleous Street,
*Bombay's Dalal Street,
*Dhaka's Motijheel,
*Melbourne's Collins Street,
*Karachi's Ibrahim Ismail Chundrigar Road,
*Sao Paulo's Paulista Avenue.

ee also

*Global settlement (2002)
*Economy of New York City
*Hard Hat riot, May 8, 1970.


Cited references


* Atwood, Albert W. and Erickson, Erling A. "Morgan, John Pierpont, (Apr. 17, 1837 - Mar. 31, 1913)," in "Dictionary of American Biography, Volume 7" (1934)
* Carosso, Vincent P. "The Morgans: Private International Bankers, 1854-1913." Harvard U. Press, 1987. 888 pp. ISBN 978-0674587298
* Carosso, Vincent P. "Investment Banking in America: A History" Harvard University Press (1970)
*Chernow, Ron. "The House of Morgan: An American Banking Dynasty and the Rise of Modern Finance", (2001) ISBN 0-8021-3829-2
* Fraser, Steve. "Every Man a Speculator: A History of Wall Street in American Life" HarperCollins (2005)
* Geisst; Charles R. "Wall Street: A History from Its Beginnings to the Fall of Enron." Oxford University Press. 2004. [http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=104746636 online edition]
* John Moody; "The Masters of Capital: A Chronicle of Wall Street" Yale University Press, (1921) [http://www.archive.org/details/mastersofcapitaljohn00moodiala online edition]
* Morris, Charles R. "The Tycoons: How Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller, Jay Gould, and J. P. Morgan Invented the American Supereconomy" (2005) ISBN 978-0805081343
* Perkins, Edwin J. "Wall Street to Main Street: Charles Merrill and Middle-class Investors" (1999)
* Robert Sobel "The Big Board: A History of the New York Stock Market" (1962)
* Robert Sobel "The Great Bull Market: Wall Street in the 1920's" (1968)
* Robert Sobel "Inside Wall Street: Continuity & Change in the Financial District" (1977)
* Strouse, Jean. "Morgan: American Financier." Random House, 1999. 796 pp. ISBN 978-0679462750

External links

* [http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/wallstreet/ Frontline: The Wall Street Fix] - PBS

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