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Synonymous with world financial markets, Wall Street runs through Lower Manhattan between Broadway and the East River. Its name derives from a wall, erected by the Dutch in 1653 to protect what was then the trading post of New Amsterdam, from the Algonquian Indians.
Among Wall Street's most notable sights are:
Federal Hall (26 Wall Street)
This beautiful neo-classical building was originally constructed in 1842-43 as the United States Customs House. It stands on the site of the old City Hall, in which George Washington took office and gave his inaugural address in 1789. A must for anyone interested in American history, this National Monument is now a museum devoted to the Constitution. Among its most significant exhibits are: the bronze George Washington statue, the Bill of Rights Room, the bible upon which Washington swore his oath of office, the suit he wore for his inaugural address, and an interactive computer installation on the subject of the Constitution.
Admission from Monday to Friday (9am to 5pm) is free and guided tours are available. Tel. (212) 825 6870.
Federal Reserve Bank (33 Liberty Street)
One of the twelve Federal Reserve Banks that issues United States currency, this awesome institution houses one third of the world's gold reserves. It also disposes of old, used banknotes at the alarming rate of $40 million per day. The vast building was completed in 1924 and its ornate design and decoration proclaims its status along an entire block.
Admission from 8.30 a.m. to 5 p.m. from Monday to Friday is free and guided tours are available but must be booked 1 week in advance. Tel. (212) 720 6130.
New York Stock Exchange (20 Broad Street)
Since the signature of the Buttonwood Agreement of 1792, by a small group of brokers under a buttonwood tree at 68 Wall Street, the ups and downs of the New York Stock Exchange have been among the greatest influences on world finance. With approximately 200 million shares traded across its floors each day, half the world's capital is generated here.
The trading operations here are complex and work at a dazzling speed so, unless you are familiar with the workings of the Stock Market, it is well worth doing a little homework in order to obtain the best possible value from your visit. There is a small museum within the Stock Exchange which explains its fascinating history. It also chronicles the changes in trading technology which have now become the world standard.
Tickets are available for the Visitors Gallery, which is open from Monday-Friday 9.15 a.m. 4p.m. with last admissions at 2.45pm Tel. (0845) 1145 or (212) 656 5168.