4. Wall Street

Wall Street gets its name from the wooden wall erected by the Dutch in 1653 to defend the city of New Amsterdam against an attack from the British. The wall, which the Dutch called De Waal, stood twelve feet tall and spanned the width of the island, from the East River to the Hudson (then called the North River). Governor Peter Stuyvesant directed that the project be undertaken by “citizens without exception,” since private contractors were demanding too high a price.

When the attack finally came in 1664, however, the British fell upon the island from the sea, so the wall did not stop their advances. After the British demolished the wall in 1699, the street became a major business thoroughfare in the city. Markers of where the old wooden wall once stood can be at regular intervals running down the center of the paved street.