9. There was a slave market on Wall Street

plaque commemorating New York's slave market

One of the Financial District’s dark secrets is that it was a major center of the slave trade. When Peter Stuyvesant became director general of New York, he realized that the fur trade wasn’t making any money and figured the real money was in the slave trade. At first, slaves were auctioned off right off the boats at the water’s edge, but then the slave market moved up to the edge of the wall.

New York was the second largest slave market — second only to Charleston, which was the center of the slave trade at the time. Slaves literally and figuratively built the wall that gave Wall Street its name. The slave trade brought in so much money for New York that during the Civil War, the city was divided as to whether its allegiance was to the Union or the Confederacy. A small plaque at the base of Water and Wall Streets explains this dark history.