Touring Wall Street is as easy as touring any part of New York City! With its wealth of majestic historical buildings, whimsical cobblestone alleyways, and cultural landmarks, Wall Street is an excellent destination for any tourist visiting New York. Wall Street isn’t just one of the most important financial centers globally; it’s also one of the oldest neighborhoods in New York City. Wall Street is home to numerous high-powered banking firms and the New York Stock Exchange. But in the 17th century, De Waalstrat was a small Dutch settlement around which settlers built a large wall.
Wall Street’s Dutch Colonial Origins
Legend has it that the local Dutch governor had made a deal with the indigenous people so his settlers could live peacefully on the lower tip of Manhattan. But the governor went back on his word and massacred the local tribe. As a result, settlers built a wall to fend off attacks by the understandably angry kinfolk of the slaughtered Native Americans. De Waalstrat eventually became the center of a new kind of American commerce: slavery. New York City’s first official slave market sat on Wall St. and Pearl St.
Wall Street as the Center of Finance and Trading
In the 1800s, the trading of bonds overtook the trading of enslaved peoples, and Wall Street became known as the country’s financial center, where railroad and oil magnates would come to speculate on the fortunes brought in by Westward Expansion until the crash of 1929, which brought on the Great Depression. America’s participation in the World Wars revived Wall Street and the overall economy. The country’s increased prominence on the world stage led the neighborhood to boom with business and life.
Wall Street and September 11, 2001
September 11, 2001, marked another turning point in Wall Street’s history. The devastation wrought by the destruction of the World Trade Center led to a mass exodus from the neighborhood. In recent years, before the pandemic, the city and investors made several efforts to revitalize the area, constructing the World Trade Center memorial, One World Trade, one of the tallest towers in the Western hemisphere, and the Oculus shopping mall. Tourists come to Wall Street to experience not only the neighborhood’s contemporary significance but its transformative role in American history. Start your tour of Wall Street by downloading Action Tour Guide’s self-guided audio tour.