Wall Street is an eight-block-long street in the Financial District of Lower Manhattan in New York City. It runs between Broadway in the west to South Street and the East River in the east. The term "Wall Street" has become a metonym for the financial markets of the United States as a whole, the American financial services industry, New York–based financial interests, or the Financial District itself. Anchored by Wall Street, New York has been described as the world's principal financial center.Wall Street was originally known in Dutch as "de Waalstraat" when it was part of New Amsterdam in the 17th century, though the origins of the name vary. An actual wall existed on the street from 1685 to 1699. During the 17th century, Wall Street was a slave trading marketplace and a securities trading site, and from the early eighteenth century (1703) the location of Federal Hall, New York's first city hall. In the early 19th century, both residences and businesses occupied the area, but increasingly business predominated, and New York City's financial industry became centered on Wall Street. In the 20th century, several early skyscrapers were built on Wall Street, including 40 Wall Street, once the world's tallest building.
The Wall Street area is home to the New York Stock Exchange, the world's largest stock exchange by total market capitalization, as well as the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, and many commercial banks and insurance companies. Several other stock and commodity exchanges have also been located in downtown Manhattan near Wall Street, including the New York Mercantile Exchange and other commodity futures exchanges, and the American Stock Exchange. To support the business they did on the exchanges, many brokerage firms had offices nearby. However the direct economic impacts of Wall Street activities extend worldwide.
Wall Street itself is a narrow and winding street running from the East River to Broadway and lined with skyscrapers, as well as the New York Stock Exchange Building and Federal Hall National Memorial and One Wall Street at its western end. The street is nearby multiple New York City Subway lines and ferry terminals and both the World Trade Center (1973–2001) site and the New World Trade Center.