Origins… the wall of Wall Street

Ever wondered what Wall Street is named after? No? Well it was, strangely enough, named after a wall.

The wall was erected by Dutch settlers on the southern tip of Manhattan Island in the 17th century. During this time, a war between the English and Dutch threatened to spill over onto the island’s American colonies, so the Dutch erected a defensive wall on the southernmost part of the island. Although this wall was never used for its intended purpose, years after its removal it left a legacy behind in the name Wall Street.

The area only became famous for being America’s financial centre at the end of the 18th century, when 24 of the United States’ first and most prominent brokers signed an agreement that outlined the common commission-based form of trading securities. Occurring under a “Buttonwood” tree, this marked the beginnings of the investment community of Wall Street and the creation of the New York Stock Exchange.

On a similar note, did you know that the Dow Jones Industrial Average is named after real people?

Charles Henry Dow and Edward Jones met while they both worked for newspapers in Providence, R.I. Dow left to take a job as a reporter at a financial news bureau on Wall Street, and the bureau hired Jones on Dow’s recommendation. In November 1882, they started their own financial reporting firm (Dow, Jones & Co.) in the basement of a sweet shop, publishing a two-page summary of the day’s financial news called the “Customers’ Afternoon Letter”.

And the rest, as they say, is history.

Read more Lighter Side articles from Pamela Hellig.

Pamela Hellig