Wall Street

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Image:Photos NewYork1 032.jpg
Elaborate marble facade of NYSE as seen from Broad and Wall Streets
For other uses, see Wall Street (disambiguation).

Wall Street is a narrow street in lower Manhattan in New York City, running east from Broadway downhill to the East River. Considered to be the historical heart of the Financial District, it was the first permanent home of the New York Stock Exchange.

The phrase "Wall Street" is also used as a metonym to refer to American financial markets and financial institutions as a whole. Most New York financial firms are no longer headquartered on Wall Street, but elsewhere in lower or midtown Manhattan, Fairfield County, Connecticut, or New Jersey. JPMorgan Chase, the last major holdout, sold its headquarters tower at 60 Wall Street to Deutsche Bank in November 2001.

Contents

[edit] History

Image:Wall street 1867.jpg
View in Wall Street from Corner of Broadway, 1867. The building on the left was the U.S. Customs House at the time but is today the Federal Hall National Memorial.

The name of the street derives from the fact that during the 17th century, it formed the northern boundary of the New Amsterdam settlement. In the 1640s basic picket and plank fences denoted plots and residences in the colony.<ref name=Sullivan>[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.</ref> Later, on behalf of the West India Company, Peter Stuyvesant, in part using African slaves,<ref>White New Yorkers in Slave Times New York Historical Society. Retrieved 20 August 2006. (PDF)</ref> led the Dutch in the construction of a stronger stockade. By the time war had developed with the English, a strengthened 12 foot wall <ref Name=timeline>Timeline: A selected Wall Street chronology PBS Online, 21 October 2004. Retrieved 20 August 2006</ref> of timber and earth was created by 1653 fortified by palisades.<ref Name=timeline/> <ref Name=Sullivan/> The wall was created, and strengthened over time, as a defense against attack from various Indian tribes, New England colonists, and the British. In 1685 surveyors laid out Wall Street along the lines of the original stockade.<ref Name=timeline>NYSE Timeline 2006 NYSE Group, Inc. Retrieved 19 August 2006.</ref> The wall was dismantled by the British in 1699.

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.<ref>Today in History: January 4 - The New York Stock Exchange The Library of Congress. Retrieved 19 August 2006.</ref>

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.<ref>DOW JONES HISTORY - THE LATE 1800s 2006 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Retrieved 19 August 2006.</ref> For many years, it had the widest circulation of any newspaper in the United States, although it is currently second to USA Today.<ref>The Wall Street Journal redesigns itself Robert Fulford. 20 April 2002. Retrieved 19 August 2006.</ref> It is owned by Dow Jones & Company.

[edit] 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.

Image:Wallstreetbmb.jpg
September 16, 1920: a bomb exploded in front of the headquarters of J.P. Morgan Inc. at 23 Wall Street, killing 40 and injuring 300 people.

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 40 and injuring 400. Shortly before the bomb went off a warning note was placed in a mailbox at the corner of Cedar Street and Broadway. The warning read: Remember we will not tolerate any longer. Free the political prisoners or it will be sure death for all of you. American Anarchists Fighters. 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.

Image:Crowd outside nyse.jpg
A solemn crowd gathers outside the NYSE after the crash.

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 never terribly successful.[citation needed] 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 standard of 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 1,776-foot 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.

[edit] Wall Street today

Image:View of Wall Street.jpg
View up Wall Street from Pearl Street

To say that a corporation is a "Wall Street company" today does not necessarily mean that the company is physically located on Wall Street. It more likely means that the firm deals with financial services; such a firm could be headquartered in many places across the globe. Today, much of Wall Street's workforce tends to be made up of professionals working in the fields of law or finance who work for medium- to large-sized corporations. Many of the nearby businesses are local companies and chain stores that cater to the tastes of professionals and to the needs of the workforce. Most people who work in the Financial District commute in from suburbs in Long Island, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and the northern Hudson Valley.

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. Finally, the New York Stock Exchange itself remains the last great holdout where trading is done entirely on the floor rather than electronically. There is, ironically, no longer really any need for Wall Street the institution to be located on Wall Street the street, except perhaps for prestige. Stocks could easily be traded almost anywhere.

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's 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's 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.

[edit] Buildings

Image:Federal Hall NYC1.jpg
Federal Hall, Wall Street.

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, and the New York Stock Exchange at the corner of Broad Street.

For a more complete list of buildings, see List of buildings in Lower Manhattan.

[edit] Personalities

Further information: List of personalities associated with Wall Street

Over the years, certain persons associated with Wall Street have become famous, even legendary. Although their reputation is usually limited to members of the stock brokerage/banking community, 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.

[edit] Cultural influence

[edit] 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/or financial institutions such as investment banks. The idea of "Main Street" conjures images up small town and suburban single-family homes and small businesses. 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.

[edit] Perceptions

Image:Trinitychurch.png
Trinity church from Wall Street.

The Gilded Age architecture and culture of the time gave rise to many modern stereotypes about corporate culture that exist to this day, at least in the United States. Some of these stereotypes can perhaps be said to have existed well beyond their time. Mentioning Wall Street of years past conjures up images of White Anglo-Saxon Protestant businessmen seated around mahogany boardroom tables smoking cigars and discussing their holdings and making backroom deals. To labor unions, small businesses all over the country and the world, and even to the middle class, Wall Street culturally could easily serve as a symbol of aloofness to the concerns of every day people.

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, despite the inevitable corruption, 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.[citation needed]

[edit] In literature and 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

Wall Street was the subject of a 1970s pop song, "Wall Street Shuffle" by 10cc.

The film Wall Street exemplifies many popular conceptions of Wall Street, being a tale of shady corporate dealings and insider trading.<ref>IMDb entry for Wall Street Retrieved 19 August 2006.</ref>

In Godzilla , Godzilla walks down Wall Street after stomping through Fulton Fish Market.

In the Star Trek universe, the Ferengi, an ultra-capitalist race of extraterrestrials, regularly make religious pilgrimages to Wall Street (as it exists in that universe), since they value similar traits in other species.

[edit] Similar institutions

Image:Wall Street.JPG
Wall Street Sign

The financial clout of Wall Street is most rivaled only by:

Smaller international rivals include:

In North America, the nearest rivals are:

[edit] See also

[edit] References

[edit] Cited references

<references />

[edit] General references

  • 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)

[edit] External links

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Wall Street

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