Life & English: History of Wall Street

Wall Street is a special nick-name for the financial markets of the United States and the world. In fact, Wall Street is an eight-block-long street running roughly northwest to southeast from Broadway to South Street, at the East River, in the Financial District of Lower Manhattan in New York City.

Anchored by Wall Street, New York City has been called both the most economically powerful city and the leading financial center of the world, and the city is home to the world's two largest stock exchanges by total market capitalization, the New York Stock Exchange and NASDAQ. Several other major exchanges have or had headquarters in the Wall Street area, including the New York Mercantile Exchange, the New York Board of Trade, and the former American Stock Exchange.

Wall Street

In the 1640s, a simple fence devided plots and residences in the colony. Later, the Dutch West India Company and the city government strengthened the wall. The wall started at Pearl Street, which was the shoreline at that time, crossing the Indian path Broadway and ending at the other shoreline. In these early days, in Wall Street, local merchants and traders bought and sold shares and bonds, and over time divided themselves into two classes—auctioneers and dealers.

The new City Hall built at Wall and Nassau in 1700. The slave market operated from 1711 to 1762 at the corner of Wall and Pearl Streets. In 1789 Wall Street was the scene of the United States' first presidential inauguration when George Washington took the oath of office on the balcony of Federal Hall on April 30, 1789. This was also the location of the passing of the Bill Of Rights.

Between 1860 and 1920, the economy changed from "agricultural to industrial to financial" and New York maintained its leadership position. Over time, Wall Street became the largest center of the financial world.

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