Wall Street is the financial district in lower Manhattan, New York City. The NYSE, AMEX stock exchanges and many banks and brokerages are located in this district. It may also be used in a broad sense to refer to the investment community in general.
In the 17th century, Dutch settlers in New York built a wall to protect themselves from Indians, pirates, and other dangers. The path joining the banks of the East River with those of the Hudson River on the west was named Wall Street. New York was the U.S. national capitol from 1785 until 1790 and Federal Hall was built on Wall Street. George Washington was inaugurated on the steps of Federal Hall.