The maps and pictures below illustrate facts related to Wall Street. Wall Street is the financial district of New York City, named after and centered on the eight-block-long, long street running from Broadway to South Street on the East River in Lower Manhattan. Over time, the term has become a metonym for the financial markets of the United States as a whole, the American financial sector (even if financial firms are not physically located there), or signifying New York-based financial interests.
Wall Street is the home of the New York Stock Exchange, the world's largest stock exchange by market capitalization of its listed companies. Several other major exchanges have or had headquarters in the Wall Street area, including NASDAQ, the New York Mercantile Exchange, the New York Board of Trade, and the former American Stock Exchange. Anchored by Wall Street, New York City is one of the world's principal financial centers.
There are varying accounts about how the Dutch-named "de Waal Straat" got its name. A generally accepted version is that the name of the street was derived from an earthen wall on the northern boundary of the New Amsterdam settlement, perhaps to protect against English colonial encroachment or incursions by native Americans. A conflicting explanation is that Wall Street was named after Walloons—possibly a Dutch abbreviation for Walloon being Waal. Among the first settlers that embarked on the ship "Nieu Nederlandt" in 1624 were 30 Walloon families.
In the 1640s, basic picket and plank fences denoted plots and residences in the colony. Later, on behalf of the Dutch West India Company, Peter Stuyvesant, using both African slaves and white colonists, collaborated with the city government in the construction of a more substantial fortification, a strengthened wall. In 1685, surveyors laid out Wall Street along the lines of the original stockade. The wall started at Pearl Street, which was the shoreline at that time, crossing the Indian path Broadway and ending at the other shoreline (today's Trinity Place), where it took a turn south and ran along the shore until it ended at the old fort. In these early days, local merchants and traders would gather at disparate spots to buy and sell shares and bonds, and over time divided themselves into two classes—auctioneers and dealers. Wall Street was also the marketplace where owners could hire out their slaves by the day or week. The rampart was removed in 1699.