When you hear the name Wall Street, most people think of fortune hunting, money and the stock market. But perhaps few people know that what was once a muddy alleyway has grown into one of the greatest icons of economic and financial concepts as we know them today.
The mysterious street, just 600 metres long, is located on the southern edge of Manhattan, and its history goes all the way back to the 17th century.
In the mid-1600s, New York was still known as Nieuw Amsterdam, as it was owned by Dutch settlers. But at the time, the threat of war was so great that Governor Petrus Stuyvesant feared that foreigners would get their hands on their valuable land. So, to keep the English and pirates out, he had a 12-foot high defensive wall built, which, contrary to expectations, looked more like a rickety fence of stakes. Later, however, it was reinforced and the street running alongside it was christened De Waalstraat – hence the name Wall Street.
As the years passed, the town changed hands several times as the original owners said goodbye to it in exchange for other land. It was finally snapped up by the British, who were delighted to rename it New York. Interestingly, the defensive wall became increasingly encumbered by the rapid pace of infrastructural development and was demolished in 1699, but the name Wall Street was preserved for posterity.