How Wall Street Got Its Name


As with the standard Modus Operandi of any new Dutch Colony, the folks who ran New Amsterdam were looking for a way to protect themselves and their new investment.  Typically this was accomplished by creating a barricade between the people who were the threat, and the people who wanted the threat to be frustrated enough to go away.

By 1652,  England and the Netherlands were no longer friendly, and  Dutch Director-General Peter Stuyvesant determined the best way to keep the English colony to the east (in what is today Connecticut), from getting into this land of milk and beaver-pelts was to create a wall at the north end of the colony.   The wall was built and paid for in 1653, and ran from the Hudson to the East Rivers. The street that paralleled the wall soon was given that creative moniker – WALL STREET (Ed. Note – Place dramatic music sting here.)

The ironic aspect of this history was that the wall itself ended up being worthless. The English never attacked , and two years after the wall had been built, when the colony was attacked by Native Americans, they simply walked up to the wall, headed towards the East River, and then walked around the infamous wall. Apparently  the Dutch never considered that motivated attackers would be unafraid of getting their feet wet.

After the English took over the colony in a bloodless coup in 1664, the wall stood for another generation or so, before it was torn down.  The wall was gone, but the street remained, where it now represents capitalism at both its worst and best.

Tags: , , , , ,