Wall Street: What is it, how does it work and which companies are on the New York Stock Exchange?

Wall Street History
FILE - People pass the front of the New York Stock Exchange in New York, March 21, 2023. Wall Street is retreating a bit more as a five-week rally loses momentum. The S&P 500 was 0.4% lower in early trading Wednesday, June 21. (AP Photo/Peter Morgan, File)

What is Wall Street?

Wall Street is a street located in Lower Manhattan in New York City, which has become the epicenter of the global financial world. The term “Wall Street” is also used to refer to the group of companies and financial institutions that have their headquarters on this street or in its surroundings.

The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) is located on Wall Street and is one of the largest in the world in terms of trading volume and market capitalization. In addition, Wall Street is home to the headquarters of many of the world’s leading investment firms, banks and insurance companies.

Wall Street is considered a symbol of capitalism and the economic power of the United States and has been the subject of attention in the media and popular culture on numerous occasions.

How does Wall Street work?

Wall Street functions as the epicenter of the global financial market, where various financial activities and transactions take place.

In addition, Wall Street is home to the headquarters of many of the world’s leading investment firms, banks and insurance companies. These financial institutions offer a wide range of services, such as managing investment portfolios, issuing and trading bonds and other financial instruments, and conducting mergers and acquisitions.

The operation of Wall Street is complex and is regulated by entities such as the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which is in charge of supervising and regulating the stock market in the country. In general, financial market dynamics on Wall Street are driven by the supply and demand for securities and by investor expectations about the future performance of companies and the economy in general.

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What companies are on the New York Stock Exchange?

The shares of the largest public companies in the United States are traded on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). Buyers and sellers of shares can meet on the floor of the Exchange or conduct electronic transactions from anywhere in the world.

Wall Street, What to see in the Financial District of New York

Wall Street is one of the most famous streets in New York, around it is the Financial District of Manhattan.

Walking through its streets on weekdays is to immerse yourself in a maelstrom of suits, heels, ties, lots of coffee and smartphones. It is the neighborhood of the senior executives of international finance.

Here’s a guide to visiting the financial district

What to see on Wall Street

The Financial District is much more than the Stock Market and the much-photographed statue of the bull. It has other very interesting places like the Federal Reserve Bank and its gold bullion vault.

On the streets of Wall Street you will see buildings that are examples of America’s obsession with monumental Greek-inspired architecture. Columns, capitals and marbles abound in this area.

I recommend that you try to visit Wall Street on weekdays, because on weekends it becomes even boring. In the Financial District of Manhattan the action happens from Monday to Friday.

Then read on to discover the sights of this vibrant neighborhood in southern Manhattan.

1. New York Stock Exchange

The New York Stock Exchange (11 Wall Street) is a Manhattan icon and a monument to the lifestyle admired by followers of financial wizardry.

This is one of those buildings of neoclassical architecture, which since the attack on the Twin Towers cannot be visited. So settle for photos from outside.

2. The Wall Street Bull

The Charging Bull, a symbol of the Financial District of New York, has a very particular history.

Its sculptor, the Italian-American Arturo di Modica, installed it in 1989 without permission in front of the New York Stock Exchange, in an act of “artistic vandalism”.

Given the good reception of New Yorkers, the city council decided to move it to Bowling Green Park, the oldest small public park in New York.

What few know is that the statue is still owned by the artist, he never sold it or donated it to the city. In fact, he has it for sale, provided the next owner agrees to leave it at its current location.

This charging bull is one of the most visited places by tourists, so you will need patience to take a photo and touch its butt, a tradition for good luck, they say.

Due to the amount of people that come to this narrow park, there are plans to move the bull to another part of the city. If it happens, we will notify you.

3. Federal Hall

In the Financial District you will find the Federal Hall National Memorial (corner of Wall Street and Nassau Street), the former Congress in which George Washington was sworn in as the first president of the United States at the end of the 18th century.

This building was later a customs house, then part of the United States Department of the Treasury.

Today it is a memorial museum to George Washington, which you can visit for free (it has some clean bathrooms in the basement, a great fact when we are walking around the city).

4. Federal Reserve

A few steps from the stock market is the Federal Reserve Bank of New York (33 Liberty St) , according to many analysts the most powerful bank on the planet.

Before the pandemic, they offered free guided tours from Monday to Friday to see their museum and the gold vault. These interesting tours inside the Federal Reserve have not yet been reactivated, you must be attentive to the information on its official page.

5. Churches of Wall Street

Two of the oldest churches in the city are located in the financial district: Trinity Church, which still houses its old cemetry, and St Paul’s Chapel, highly symbolic because it withstood the terrorist attack on September 11, 2001.

6. Fraunces Tavern Museum

In the building that is now the Fraunces Tavern Museum, George Washington met with patriotic soldiers during the fight for Independence.

Exposes on Colonial New York, the American Revolution, and the early years of the United States as an independent republic. One of his most curious objects is a lock of George Washington’s hair.

The tavern is located in the Frances Tavern Block, the only block with colonial buildings still standing in New York.

7. South Street Seaport

The South Street Seaport Historic District has shops, restaurants, and a unique museum dedicated to New York’s naval history, including visits to historic ships docked in the harbor.

It is a good point to contemplate the Brooklyn Bridge in its entirety.

8. Pier 11

Very close to the South Street Seaport is Pier 11, the pier from which you can get on all the routes of the NYC Ferry, the ideal means of transport to reach various attractions in Brooklyn and Queens by boat.

Other sightseeing cruises also leave from this pier and the free ferry to the wonderful IKEA store in Brooklyn departs.

9. World Trade Center

Wall Street is a neighbor to the World Trade Center, so it’s a good idea to visit both places in the same day.

There they will be surprised by the push of New Yorkers to rebuild Ground Zero: the 1WTC observatory, the Memorial, the 9/11 Museum and the new WTC Transportation Hub.

10. Skyscraper Museum

The Skyscraper Museum (39 Battery Place) delves into the architectural heritage and construction history of New York’s skyscrapers.

It is a must-stop for architects, designers and engineers. It exhibits models, plans, photographs, videos on the construction of these architectural icons of New York.

Wall street history

An interesting fact is that the name of Wall Street is reminiscent of New York’s colonial past. Along the current street was the protective north wall of the city, built in 1653 by the Dutch, when the city was still called New Amsterdam.

Wall Street was hit hard during the terrorist attack on September 11, due to its proximity to the site of the Twin Towers.

The effects of the pandemic are also being felt in the Financial District of New York, as many of the famous Wall Street brokers no longer need to go to the office to work, which is why many stores, cafes and restaurants that they frequented have also closed.

Even so, it is one of the most emblematic New York neighborhoods, and you have to know it. It is very close to the World Trade Center, so it won’t cost you anything to get close.