Last week I visited Wall Street. I took the above picture standing down by the river underneath FDR Drive looking up the entire length of Wall Street, which terminates at Trinity Church, its steeple visible at the end.
On this map you can see where I stood at the beginning of the red arrow, taking the photograph up the “canyon” of Wall Street. Trinity Church is at the top of the hill, about half way across the tip of Manhattan, at the green arrow of this map. The whole length of Wall Street is only about 0.7 miles long.
There are several different stories about why the street is named Wall Street. The most popular one is that there was a wall in the 1600s that separated the city from the wilderness and kept the Indians out.
This picture [public domain] comes from Wikipedia. Click to enlarge and you see a map of 1660, showing a wall on the right side of the city across the island.
Here is a picture [public domain] of Wall Street showing what it looked like in 1789, when Washington was inaugurated there. In the back you see Trinity Church.
The point where I was standing when I took the picture at the top of this post, at the very end of Wall Street, down by the water, is where the slave market used to be. The upstanding citizens of New York went there to buy slaves. They separated mothers from their small children, husbands from their wives, just for commercial gain. This went on from 1625 well into the 1800s. When I stood at the very spot, I tried to sense the ghosts of anguish, injustice and greed, I attempted to feel how a slave would have felt, just off the ship from Liberia after a harrowing journey in chains – facing a hopeless life.
Today I had dinner at a Panera Restaurant in a large shopping area in the suburban sprawl of Southern California, when I suddenly realized that the entire length of Wall Street would probably fit into the parking lot of the huge shopping mall where I was sitting.
Worlds away from Wall Street.