Wall Street, narrow street in the lower part of Manhattan island, New York City, extending E from Broadway to the East River. It is the center of one of the greatest financial districts in the world, and by extension the term "Wall St." has come to designate U.S. financial interests. In the district, which extends several blocks N and S of Wall St., are the New York and the American Stock Exchanges as well as commodity exchanges and the homes of numerous commercial and investment banks, and "Wall St." law firms. Facing Wall St., on the west side of Broadway, is Trinity Church (founded 1696). Federal Hall National Memorial (see National Parks and Monuments, table), one block east, was erected on the site of the former Federal Hall, where George Washington was inaugurated in 1789 and where the first Congress met. Wall St. received its name from a stockade, or wall, built in 1653 by Dutch colonists to protect the settled area south of it from assault by the English and by the native population.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.