Borough and State: Manhattan, New York
Type of district: National Register historic district
The Wall Street Historic District showcases America’s colonial heritage. The irregular street plan of the district is the only physical remnant of the 17th-century Dutch colonial settlement of New Amsterdam. It reflects medieval European town patterns rather than the standard grid found throughout much of Manhattan, and together with the district’s towering skyscrapers it creates the narrow “canyons” for which the area is so famous.
Wall Street is best known throughout the world as a financial center, a role it has held since the 1820s. The organization that would evolve into the New York Stock Exchange, which has operated on its current site since 1865, was established by a group of securities traders in 1792. In the early 19th century, the opening of the Erie Canal established New York as the nation’s most important port. Financial institutions and shipping companies moved to Wall Street, constructing headquarters in the district and making it a worldwide financial center. During its history, Wall Street has been home to the headquarters of the Bank of New York, the Bank of the Manhattan Company (now a part of Chase Manhattan), City Bank of New York (now Citicorp), the House of Morgan, the White Star Line (owner of the Titanic), Cunard Lines, Standard Oil, and American Express.