Wall Street is at the very heart of the financial industry in America. Here, traders can either earn or lose, sometimes in extremes. It first belonged to the Dutch and was an important place for them as well. They supposedly built a wall in order to protect their settlement from the British at that point, hence the name ‘Wall Street’.
Now, Wall Street is a place where people can either get rich or lose whatever they have, It’s also been romanticized quite a bit, with books and movies based on the location. Anyone who’s interested in business or making money in any way will find Wall Street of interest. To this end, below are some interesting facts that one should know about Wall Street:
The first name of Wall Street was ‘de Waal Straat’, which was coined by the Dutch settling there. This was the point in history when New York was actually owned by the Dutch and called New Amsterdam. While many sources seem doubtful about the truth of this fact, it’s widely believed that a wall set up by the Dutch was the reason for the name.
Since the Dutch and the British were opposing parties in the Americas at that moment, the two didn’t really trust each other too much. Hence, the Dutch built a wall in that particular area to make their settlement known. This was also to protect it from the eyes and actions of the British.
When we talk about Wall Street, we usually refer to the financial area based in New York. The actual financial district is actually much larger than just Wall Street, even though the latter comprises eight blocks. These run from Broadway to the South Street and are less than half a mile in total.
The making of Wall Street and its name actually had little to do with its current function of dealing in trade, fiancé, and business. It only gained this connection after an agreement between 24 traders. They signed a contract stating that they would only trade stocks with each other. Thus the New York Stock and Exchange Board began.
The signing of the agreement took place under a sycamore or buttonwood tree within Wall Street itself. It was thus dubbed the Buttonwood Agreement. Later on, the same board became the New York Stock Exchange or NYSE. The building for this is not on Wall Street per se, but just off one corner on Broad Street. One would also find the NASDAQ headquarters nearby, which are also an important aspect of trading stocks in New York.
On the List
The financial district of Wall Street and its surrounding area related to the same field places New York on the map in many ways. Most importantly, it makes the state of New York second in the world when it comes to financial centers. The first on this list is London. These statistics are defined by the Global Financial Centres Index.
When one talks about Wall Street, the Wall Street Crash is not far off. This occurred in 1929 and resulted in many people losing all they had invested to date. The cause of this crash was due to the stock and share prices rising in the 1920s, which was a golden decade for the American economy. This is also why it’s known as the roaring 20s. However, the prices fell very sharply and unexpectedly after this decade, leading to the Wall Street Crash.
The 20s was a time when people invested money in the hopes of even more profit. Quite often, this was money that they had borrowed from one source or another. Due to this high demand, the prices of most shares and stocks were higher than their actual worth.
Some investors realized this and started selling in a panic. The word soon spread, with everyone trying to sell all they had at the same time. The first huge plunge was in October 1929 on a Thursday. This was known as Black Thursday. On the Monday and Tuesday that followed, there were even more traders selling their shares. They were hence also known as Black Monday and Black Tuesday. Due to this crash, several economies suffered throughout the world. It is also believed that the Wall Street Crash was one of the main causes of the 1930s Great Depression. This adversely affected the American economy as well as several other countries.
The Wall Street Crash managed to destroy many people financially, which led to several suicides as well. Between the beginning of the crash (Black Thursday) and the end of the year, there were more than a hundred suicides within the state of New York. The statistics might be bleak, but it is also reported that only four of these suicides or attempts were actually linked back to the crash.
A 1987 movie named “Wall Street” looked at the culture of this area and at the 1980s financial culture in general. It portrayed the atmosphere as being one of excess and greed like never before. Well-known names like Michael Douglas, Martin Sheen, Charlie Sheen, and Daryl Hannah were connected with this movie. The director was Oliver Stone, another well-known name.
The same director also made a sequel in 2010, with Charlie Sheen and Michael Douglas returning for it too. Shia LaBeouf was also included. This time, the movie was about the financial crisis of 2008.
The trading in Wall Street traditionally begins in the morning at 9:30 am. The opening is signaled by a bell that’s rung inside the New York Stock Exchange. The closing is at 4 pm, when the bell rings again to signal that trading is at an end. The usual practice is that an important person, like a wealthy individual or a celebrity, will ring the bell. It’s considered to be a matter of prestige, with the likes of Jim Parsons and Hillary Duff on the list.
The first location of the NYSE was in a coffee house on Wall Street. This is known as the Tontine Coffee House and located on the corner between Water Street and Wall Street. From there, the headquarters moved to 40 Wall Street in just one rented room. This was back in 1817, but there was another move in 1835 after the first building was destroyed by fire.
The new building stayed the headquarters from 1861 to 1901, when it was finally demolished. Another building was created in the year 1903, where the NYSE has stayed since.
There was a music video filmed right outside the NYSE building in 2000. This was for the song “Sleep Now into the Fire” by Rage Against the Machine. While work went on as usual inside the building, the doors were firmly locked. This was in order to prevent anyone entering and disturbing the trading.
Knowing about Wall Street is useful if anyone wants to conduct business and trade within the United States of America. Its history is also important as it can teach businessmen many lessons.