Wall Street – The Symbol of Finance

The Wall Street has become a symbol of international finance, as evidenced by the Occupy Wall Street movement, among others. This eight-block-long street runs from Broadway to South Street along the East River in the lower part of Manhattan. It’s home to the New York Stock Exchange, one of the most influential financial markets in the world, and is a major financial center. For better or for worse, many people regard it as interchangeable with the idea of big business.

Wall Street History

Wall Street Sign

Wall Street Sign

This street began as a minor street in Dutch New Amsterdam, and was the scene of President George Washington’s inauguration in 1789. It was originally a residential district, but business moved in during the 19th century.

By 1889, it was an important financial center. The first American stock report, “Customers’ Afternoon Letter,” renamed itself as “The Wall Street Journal,” and many major financial groups kept their offices there. It was one of the first locations for modern skyscraper construction. By the 1920s, Wall Street was synonymous with international finance. In the 21st century, this location is home to one of the biggest financial centers in the world.


The stock market has a huge influence on finances worldwide. A bad day in this market can cause other markets to plunge suddenly, as evidenced by many recessions throughout the 20th century. The market’s economy also has a significant effect on the lives of people in New York City, since it is a major employer and financial influence.

As of 2008, it was estimated that Wall Street was responsible for about a quarter of all the personal income earned in New York City, as well as about one tenth of the city’s tax revenues. The financial services industry, based out of Wall Street, accounts for less a twentieth of the jobs in New York, but pays more than a fifth of its wages.

Elitism of the Wall Street

Because it is so strongly associated with large financial firms and hugely successful businesspeople, Wall Street is also often connected with elitism. Wall Street is considered synonymous with corporate America and financial influences, which are sometimes thought to be in opposition to small or locally-owned businesses, referred to as “Main Street.”

Wall Street is a complicated location, associated with both prosperity and power as well as elitism and corruption. Regardless of how individuals think about it, however, it remains one of the most powerful and influential financial markets on the planet.