The Origin of the Name "Wall Street"
From whence cometh the name of famous Wall Street? If not for the presence of the NY Stock Exchange, few would know of its existence and fewer would care about its origins. In 1792, 24 of NY City's leading merchants began meeting secretly to discuss ways to bring order to the securities business and to wrest it from their competitors, the auctioneers. Two months later, these merchants signed a document named the Buttonwood Agreement, named after their traditional meeting place, a buttonwood tree. The agreement called for the signers to trade securities only among themselves, to set trading fees, and not to participate in other auctions of securities, thus founding what was to become the New York Stock Exchange. The Exchange would later be located at 11 Wall Street. Many years earlier, Dutch settlers built a wall that joined the banks of the East River with those of the Hudson River on the west, to protect themselves from Indians, pirates, and other dangers. The path, appropriately named Wall Street, became a bustling commercial thoroughfare where early merchants built their warehouses and shops, along with a city hall and a church. NY was the U.S. national capitol from 1785 until 1790 and Federal Hall, where George Washington was inaugurated, was built on Wall Street.