Street in New York City where many major U.S. financial institutions are located. The street, in southern Manhattan, is narrow and short and extends only about seven blocks from Broadway to the East River. It was named for an earthen wall built by Dutch settlers in 1653 to repel an expected English invasion. Even before the Civil War it was recognized as the nation's financial capital, and it remains a worldwide symbol of high finance. The Wall Street, or financial, district contains the New York Stock Exchange, the American Stock Exchange, and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. The district is also the headquarters for many investment banks, securities dealers, utilities and insurance companies, and brokerage firms.