WALL STREET, THE BEST KNOWN HALF MILE IN THE WORLD.
THE VARIOUS EXCHANGES.
Of the four streets in New York known the world over —Broadway, Fifth Avenue, the Bowery and Wall Street—the latter is by far the most famous. Newspapers in every section of civilization print its name in every issue, and the Wall Street column has a larger number of daily readers than any other item printed.
For a street less than half a mile long and but little more than thirty feet wide, its importance is altogether disproportionate to its mere physical size. It does not lack dignity, however, both sides being lined with buildings of the most costly and imposing character. Aside from its fame as the greatest of all financial centers, the street derives piquancy and zest from the thrills and excitement of meeting face to face most of the men whose names are familiar to the reading public.
All the great captains of industry; the capitalists whose every move is recorded by the press; distinguished visitors from foreign countries; railroad presidents, various dignitaries in the shape of steel kings, rubber kings, sugar kings, oil kings and lesser members of the royal families of commerce and manufacture may all be seen here.
The comings and goings of J. P. Morgan are always moments of delightful excitement to the visitor and something to speak about when he gets back home. Mr. Morgan's photograph is so frequently printed that he is easily recognized.
The same is true of Mr. Rockefeller. With these two exceptions, most of the big men, though well known by name to the average reader, cannot very well be identified from the occasional portraits that appear. Business, however, brings them constantly on the street, and they are everywhere in evidence.
But to begin our trip in an orderly fashion. At number one is the First National Bank, known in financial circles as "Fort Sherman," because of the important part played by it during the resumption of specie payments when John Sherman was Secretary of the Treasury. The office building adjoining, the Schermerhorn, is an Astor building. At number ten stood a very noted church in its day, the old First Presbyterian Meeting House, where Jonathan Edwards preached, as did also George Whitfield.
It was used as a hospital by the British in the Revolution. It was called a meeting house, we are told, because when it was built, in 1719, only the Dutch Reformed and the established Church of England were permitted to have churches. Other places of worship were houses, and to keep up this legal fiction they had to be provided with fireplaces. We are also told that the fireplaces were never used, since in those primitive days anything conducive to comfort in the sanctuary was considered a contrivance of the devil.
The next building, a magnificent 40-story structure, which extends to the corner, is the well known Bankers' Trust Company. It occupies the site on which stood the modest wooden building kept by John Simmons as a tavern, and a famous one, too, as Simmons was a friend of both Henry Brevoort and Washington Irving. But of much greater importance is the fact that to Simmons' Tavern came the Common Council of New York in 1784 to elect James Duane the first Mayor of the newly organized city.
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