The History of Wall Street

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If you lived in the Dutch settlement of Nieuw Amsterdam around 1644, you may have given little thought to the undistinguished dirt foot path bordering a plank fence at the northern section of your settlement.

You might have noticed the sturdy new wall that replaced the plank fence in 1653, when tensions with Native Americans and the British threatened your colony. But you probably still seldom thought of the pathway.

The English attack in 1664 came not from the north near the stockade wall, but from the east and by sea. After your governor surrendered without firing a shot, your colony was renamed New York. During the turmoil, you had no particular reason to notice the nameless byway.

Your country regained possession of the settlement in 1673. But during the Anglo-Dutch Westminster Peace Treaty of 1674, the Dutch-Netherlands finally ceded the territory to the English. Peace returned to your area and New York prospered. A few years later, a market was built along the stockade wall. No doubt you noticed as the inconspicuous path became a busy road.

Eventually the wall came down and the road was cobble-stoned. If you traveled through time to Wall Street today, you’d find your footpath is a commercial thoroughfare and that its name is used to describe the entire US financial industry.

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