Cocktail Conversation: The Origin of Wall Street (part1)

wall_streetChris and I were sitting around yesterday looking for a movie to catch our eye and somehow, wall street looked like a fascinating idea. This 1987 Michael Douglas/Martin Scheen/Charlie Scheen movie is enough to keep anyone entertained, but it made us wonder how did this crazy street come into play? While reading blogs, I stumbled upon History Confidential’s histrory of wall street, a complete coincidence, this morning! Enjoy.

Posted by Bacall in Early American

First off let’s investigate where the name Manhattan derives from. It comes from the word Manna-hata, the European name given by the settlers to the Native American people who lived there (now believed to be the Lenape tribe). A ship from the Dutch West India company with an officer named Robert Jeut were sent on a mission to discover a Northwest Passage to China;  it set out on the mission and landed in the Upper New York Bay instead on September 11, 1609. The Ship anchored off the northern tip of Manhattan. The ship’s captain, Henry Hudson, named the river “Mauritius River,” later changed to the Hudson River.


In 1625 the fortress town of New Amsterdam on Manhattan Island was founded by Wilem Verhulst, director of the Dutch West India Company. This making Manhattan Island the first permanent European settlement in what we now know as part of New York City, or as I call it, the heart of New York City. In 1626 Verhulst’s successor bought the Island from the Lenape for 60 guilders worth of goods. The value of these goods equaled $24.00, which in today’s currency works out to about $500-$700 dollars!

Now, bear in mind, the Lenape people had no concept of  land ownership. As far as they were concerned land could not be owned by anyone. Land, in their mind was like water, and air, there for all to partake in, freely. They saw the goods as a gesture of appreciation to them for sharing the land with the Europeans. They lived in peace for a little while. When the Lenape people later wanted the land back, the settlers built a wall to keep them out. That wall later became what we know as Wall Street where the New York Stock Exchange stands today. Think about that when you visit Wall Street next time.

Published in: on July 15, 2009 at 7:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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