Wall Street is a popular stop on the New York Party Shuttle sightseeing tour.
Our Tour Guides walk the group off Broadway onto Wall Street and provide the tour group a historical narrative on the New York Stock Exchange, as well as the history of Wall Street and Federal Hall, where George Washington was inaugurated. This brisk walk down to Wall Street takes only 10 minutes with an interesting surprise at the end.
Once the city’s northernmost boundary, Wall Street did indeed get its name from a wooden palisade that had been erected back in 1653 under the direction of Dutch Governor Peter Stuyvesant between the Hudson and East River to protect the town from marauding Indians. This palisade was 10 feet high and made of thick planks. However, before the wall was finished a street began to grow on the “town” side. This became known as Wall Street and over the years, the barricade gradually fell into disrepair as the dreaded Indian attacks failed to materialize. The farmers and other citizenry would eventually rip down the planks to use as building material or firewood, so that it would finally disappear in 1699. But the “Wall Street” name remained.
After walking down the now “pedestrian only” street that Wall Street has become since 9/11, we come upon Federal Hall, the site of Washington’s inauguration as first President on April 30, 1789. The exact location is marked by Washington’s statue, as the present building was built in 1842 to house the first US Customs House.
From here we get an excellent view of the New York Stock Exchange. Located on Broad Street, the Visitor Gallery has been closed since 9/11 and there is no indication of whether it will be reopened. However we get a splendid view of the magnificent Corinthian columns and sculpted figures on the pediment symbolizing Commerce. The New York Stock Exchange was founded in 1792 when 24 New York City stockbrokers and merchants signed the Buttonwood Agreement under a buttonwood tree. Since then, the NYSE has grown to become the global marketplace it is today.
From the NYSE, we walk back to Broadway and stroll down to the famous Wall Street Bull, one of the best photo opportunities in the area. Created by then-unknown sculptor Arturo Di Modica, this Wall Street fixture since 1989 features a 7,000 pound bronze rendition of a charging bull with flaring nostrils that are rubbed for good luck by many traders each morning. The sculpture was inspired by the 1987 stock market crash, when Di Modica sold his farm in Sicily to help fund his project. “Charging Bull” arrived in front of the Stock Exchange in the dead of night on December 15, 1989 when there were no authorities nearby. Since there was no permit, it was removed by the police. So great was public support for this endeavor that on December 20, the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation arranged for the piece to have a new stomping ground at its current location at Bowling Green, the city’s oldest park.
In 1792, 24 of New York’s leading merchants signed a document named the Buttonwood Agreement, names after their secret meeting place, a buttonwood tree. They discussed ways of trading and to only trade amongst themselves. These 24 men has founded what it is called the New York Stock Exchange which is later located on 11 Wall Street.
The first scare on Wall Street occurred in 1929, when The Wall Street con game convinced millions of Americans to invest their money into stocks and bonds. Stock prices went sky high and were greater than the worth of the companies but on 1924, the market fell 31 points. Stock prices dramatically fell until it crashed. This resulted in the economic collapse and depression that lasted up until the start of WWII in 1941.
Another crash occurred in 1987, “Black Monday”. Dow Jones fell 508 points and became one of the largest one-day loss in the history of the market.
Since 9/11, Wall Street has to take precautions as to who can get in and out of the area. Many areas like the visitor’s gallery in the New York Stock exchange has been closed. Security has been very tight in this area.