The name of this eight block, 1.1 kilometer road that is today synonymous with the American financial sector, is thought to have originated from an old wall designed as a basic defence against the British in the 1600s. Markers showing the original position of the wall can still be seen on Wall Street today.
We experienced the 90-minute History of Wall Street and Ground Zero walking tour with Wall Street Walks on a hot summer’s day in July. Our group was made up of about 20 people of different ages and from a number of countries including the USA.
Our tour guide was John Circincion, an engaging and knowledgeable speaker on the topics of the financial industry and local and American history that the tour covers. Circincion is also a part-time lecturer at the Museum of American Finance and worked at Merrill Lynch in London for 5 years, among other credentials.
The sites covered include the New York Stock Exchange, Federal Hall, Trinity Church, Ground Zero, the 9/11 Memorial, Stone Street, the Trump Building and the US Customs House. We also stopped to look at the famous Charging Bull which was delivered in an unconventional manner at the time of its completion by Italian-American sculptor Arturo Di Modica.
The tour moves at an easy pace and each participant is given his or her own headset, which is a nice touch to make sure no one suffers by struggling to hear near the back.
The narrative provided on the tour is an interesting mix of anecdotes, historical accounts and some carefully explained financial processes such as an overview of the IPO process. You’ll learn why the phrase “So help me God”is included in the Presidential oath and about the duel between the Former Secretary of the Treasury and sitting Vice President that resulted in one man being killed.
Modern day Wall Street is blocked to cars using barriers as an anti-terrorist measure since 9/11, so the only way to experience the area up-close is on foot. We learned that a terrorist attack did take place right on the street in 1920 when a horse-drawn wagon loaded with dynamite was detonated on the busiest corner near 23 Wall Street, killing 38 people and injuring many more. Despite being the worst terrorist attack in American history at the time, the culprits were never apprehended.
During summer you can join one of the tours on weekdays at 10am, 11am and 1pm as well as 3pm on Fridays. During the weekends the tour is at 11am and 1pm.