Downtown New York is one of the most historic and intriguing neighborhoods in the United States. It has long been the heart of the financial industry and home to Wall Street; in recent years, Downtown has also emerged as an around-the-clock community for working, living, and entertaining, an elegant residential neighborhood, a home to world-class cultural institutions, and a center for music, dance, and visual arts events.
This area is home to the New York Stock Exchange. Some other things to do: Visit Stone Street (the first paved street of Manhattan), sit in Hanover Square (a triangular public park that was once home to the New York Cotton Exchange and the New York Cocoa Exchange), or explore the architecture.
Wall Street is a street in lower Manhattan, New York City, USA. It runs east from Broadway downhill to South Street on the East River, through the historical center of the Financial District. Wall Street was the first permanent home of the New York Stock Exchange, over time Wall Street became the name of the surrounding geographic neighborhood. Wall Street is also shorthand (or a metonym) for “influential financial interests” in the U.S. as well as for the financial industry in the New York City area.
Several major U.S. stock and other exchanges remain headquartered on Wall Street and in the Financial District, including the NYSE, NASDAQ, AMEX, NYMEX, and NYBOT. Many New York-based financial firms are no longer headquartered on Wall Street, but are in midtown Manhattan, the outer boroughs of the city, Long Island, Westchester County, Fairfield County, Connecticut, or New Jersey.
The Manhattan Financial District is one of the largest business districts in the United States, and second in New York City only to Midtown. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the corporate culture of New York was a primary center for the construction of skyscrapers (rivaled only by Chicago). The Financial District, even today, actually makes up a distinct skyline of its own, separate from but not soaring to quite the same heights as its midtown counterpart a few miles to the north.
Wall Street’s architecture is generally rooted in the Gilded Age, though there are also some art deco influences in the neighborhood. Landmark buildings on Wall Street include Federal Hall, 14 Wall Street (Bankers Trust Company Building), 40 Wall Street (The Trump Building), and the New York Stock Exchange at the corner of Broad Street.
The older skyscrapers often were built with elaborate facades; such elaborate aesthetics haven’t been common in corporate architecture for decades. The World Trade Center, built in the 1970s, was very plain and utilitarian in comparison (the Twin Towers were often criticized as looking like two big boxes, despite their impressive height).
Wall Street, more than anything, represents financial and economic power. To Americans, Wall Street can sometimes represent elitism and power politics and cut-throat capitalism, but it also stirs feelings of pride about the market economy. Wall Street became the symbol of a country and economic system that many Americans see as having developed not through colonialism and plunder, but through trade, capitalism, and innovation.
Because Wall Street was historically a commuter destination, it has seen much transportation infrastructure developed with it in mind. Today, Pier 11 at the foot of the street is a busy ferry terminal, and the New York City subway has three stations under Wall Street itself.