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Wall Street Timeline

January 3, 2019 in History

By History.com Editors

Initially built by the Dutch to stave off the English, Wall Street evolved to represent much more than a Manhattan address.

Wall Street runs for a short eight blocks in lower Manhattan and is headquarters of America’s financial markets. But Wall Street is far more than a location—it has been adopted as a term to describe all U.S. financial institutions and U.S. economic power. It has been portrayed alternatively as powerful, hot-shot, corrupt, greedy, excessive and bullish. Below is a timeline of the location—and all that it has come to represent—through history.

Wall Street as a Wooden Wall

1652: During the Anglo-Dutch Wars, hostilities between England and the Netherlands spilled over into North America. The Dutch settlers of Manhattan Island, called New Amsterdam at the time, feared England was planning to attack and constructed a wooden wall as defense.

Costing the settlement 5,000 guilders and constructed from 15-foot planks and dirt, the wall was 2,340 feet long and nine feet tall. It featured cannons and spanned between two gates, one located at what is now the corner of Wall Street and Pearl Street, and the other on Wall Street. and Broadway. Called “de Waal Straat,” the earthen part of the structure came from earlier fortifications built to defend against possible attacks by Native Americans and pirates. The labor on the wall is believed to have been performed by slaves.

After a half century, the wall fell into disrepair and was slated for demolishment but was instead restored in 1693 in fear of a French invasion. It was finally demolished in 1699.

December 13, 1711: Wall Street was made the site of the government-sanctioned slave market in New York City. In operation until 1762 at the site of one of the original Wall gates on Pearl Street, the market was a wooden building that provided the city with tax dollars from the active trade inside.

1731: A first attempt at creating a public library was made by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts, located in City Hall on Wall Street.

1788: City Hall was officially renamed Federal Hall after New York City became the first capital of the United States. It was the site of several important historical events, such as the drafting of the Bill of Rights by Congress and the inauguration of George Washington as the first president. Federal Hall was later …read more


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