9. 40 Wall Street Was At the Center of the Hamilton/Burr Rivalry

lower-manhattan-wall-street-map-40-wall-street-w-perris-maps-of-the-city-of-new-york-atlas-1852-nycFrom the 1852-54 Maps of the City of New York by W. Perris via NYPL

40 Wall Street was originally known as the Manhattan Company Building or the Bank of Manhattan Trust Company (which later became Chase and then J.P. Morgan Chase). At the same site today stood the original Bank of Manhattan Trust Company building, constructed in 1799. The company plays a role in the famous rivalry between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr.

The financial firm actually began as the first organized water delivery service, a private enterprise run by Burr which had exclusive rights to supply water to New York City. Burr used a large yellow fever epidemic to get the charter for the water service in order to break through the banking market in New York City, which was held as a monopoly by Hamilton’s Bank of New York. The charter for the Bank of Manhattan Trust allowed it to use its surplus capital for financial transactions.

The current site of 40 Wall Street was an agglomeration of multiple smaller lots, which you can see in New York City atlases prior to 1930. And funny enough, the pistols used in the Hamilton-Burr duel are located in the headquarters of J.P. Morgan Chase at 277 Park Avenue.

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