Wall Street

DEFINITION of 'Wall Street'

1. A street in lower Manhattan that is the original home of the New York Stock Exchange. The street is the historic headquarters of the largest U.S. brokerages and investment banks. Many have since relocated to other areas of Manhattan and the United States. Wall Street was named after the wooden wall Dutch colonists built in this area in 1653 to defend themselves from the British and Native Americans.

2. The collective name for the financial and investment community, which includes stock exchanges and large banks, brokerages, securities and underwriting firms, and big businesses. Some people believe that the interests of these big firms contrast those of smaller businesses, or "Main Street."

BREAKING DOWN 'Wall Street'

1. Today, the Southern tip of Manhattan is known as New York's financial district, which covers Wall Street, the New York Stock Exchange, Battery Park, the Southstreet Seaport, Trinity Church and the Woolworth Building.

2. Because of their ability to quickly raise capital through the investment community, some argue that big businesses have an unfair advantage over small businesses. Outsiders feel that Wall Street businesses are an exclusive circle made up of the powerful, greedy and corrupt. Others believe that this view is outdated. Today, there are brokerages all over the country, allowing investors free access to the same information available to Wall Street's tycoons.

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