The Origins of Wall Street

Investing Basics
What’s in a Name

Wall Street is one of the most famous streets in the world. Located in Manhattan, a well-known area of New York City, Wall Street was once home to most of America’s top investment firms, banks and the first New York Stock Exchange. But did you know how it got its name?

Humble beginnings

More than three-hundred and fifty years ago Wall Street was no more than a dirt road. In 1653, early Dutch settlers built a twelve foot high defensive wall on the road to keep out rival British settlers. Although the wall was never tested in battle, and was eventually dismantled in 1699, the name stuck.

Throughout the 1700s, Wall Street played host to merchants who would meet to trade their goods and services, but it wasn’t until 1790 that the first publicly traded investments were issued. The New York Stock Exchange traces its beginnings to this period. A century of rapid growth on the Street and the stock market followed.

After World War 1 (1914-1918), New York City and Wall Street replaced London as the world’s most powerful financial centre. Today, Wall Street is much more than just its physical location – it’s a symbol for the stock market the world over.

Getting Started

You don’t have to visit Wall Street to invest in the stock market. Mutual funds are a great way to get exposure to many different stocks, bonds or a combination of the two. Plus, they’re professionally managed, convenient and you can start investing with as little as $50.

Find out more about investing in mutual funds.

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