Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Join the Downtown Post NYC Newsletter List

Click here to join the Downtown Post NYC newsletter email list for all the gossip, happenings and events that the Financial District has to offer! Published by our friend Terese, chock full of great stuff that simply is not covered elsewhere. You can also join by emailing Terese directly to request to be put on the list.

For more information about Wall Street and New York's Financial District, join a Wall Street Walks guided walking tour!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Nelson Mandela Death is Mourned in New York City

The ticker tape parade honoring Nelson Mandela is memorialized on Broadway near Park Place.
With the death of Nelson Mandela, today is a day of mourning and remembrance worldwide. Here in New York City, we've honored Mandela with a ticker tape parade down the Canyon of Heroes- that was in 1990. Like all ticker tape parades before and since, a plaque marking the occasion was embedded on Broadway.

Click here to view our map to locate the marker for the Nelson Mandela ticker tape parade.

You can find the Nelson Mandela ticker tape parade marker on Broadway. Click the link above.

Nelson Mandela death mourned by South Africans, including Wall Street Walks owner Annaline Dinkelmann

The South African flag flies at half-mast at the New York Stock Exchange following the death of Nelson Mandela.

For more information about Wall Street and New York's Financial District, join a Wall Street Walks guided walking tour!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

50 States, 50 Weeks, One Packed Bag | Samsonite Blog

 We were honored to act as downtown ambassador for The Packed Bag! The Packed Bag is an Aussie travel adventurer in the United States on an epic holiday: she's visiting all 50 states in 50 weeks! What a trip! Here she gets up close and personal with our buddy The Bull. Read a bit more about her 10 favorite states on the Samsonite blog (link below).

50 States, 50 Weeks, One Packed Bag | Samsonite Blog

For more information about Wall Street and New York's Financial District, join a Wall Street Walks guided walking tour!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Win tickets to the Dec 2nd Wall Street Rocks Benefit Concert

Download this flyer image and share it on your social media for a chance to win tickets! Tag WSRocks on Facebook, or @wallstrocks and #wallstreetrocks on Twitter

Handing out flyers on Wall Street!
Wall Street Rocks is a benefit concert taking place December 2nd at Irving Plaza. Performing will be: Sugar Ray, Riffhanger, Big Dog Party & The Darrens. The concert benefits several worthy charities: the Wounded Warrior Project, Reserve Aid and Operation Finally Home. Buy tickets and find out more here: www.wallstreetrocks.org

For a chance to win tickets, download our image of the concert flyer above and post it to your own social media account!
When you post to Facebook, make sure to Like & tag WSRocks. When you post to Twitter or Instagram, tag @wallstrocks and hashtag #wallstreetrocks

For more information about Wall Street and New York's Financial District, join a Wall Street Walks guided walking tour!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Twitter IPO at NYSE today

Twitter IPO at NYSE

The IPO of Twitter stock (TWTR) is proving to be a popular topic of conversation... even Jim Cramer discussed the IPO at length on Mad Money last night, comparing it to the Facebook IPO. Many of the Wall Street area workers are snapping pics of the New York Stock Exchange and that giant Twitter banner as they head into the office. Presumably all of those people are then posting the images to Twitter? I know we did.

We are interested to see how this stock plays out- it represents the confluence of two topics we are inherently interested in: Wall Street and social media.

For more information about Wall Street and New York's Financial District, join a Wall Street Walks guided walking tour!

Friday, October 25, 2013

10 Fun Facts About Twitter Stock and the Twitter IPO

Are you excited about the possiblity of adding Twitter stock to your portfolio? You should be- it's the culmination of years of hard work and business development, and Wall Street is abuzz right now with activity related to the Twitter IPO.

Here are some fun facts about Twitter stock and their impending IPO:
  1. The Twitter IPO date has been pushed to November 7, 2013 (with earlier predictions ranging from October to mid-November).
  2. The projected IPO price of Twitter stock is $17-$20 per share.
  3. Based on the number of shares being offered, and the projected share price, the valuation of Twitter as a company is about $10 billion.
  4. Twitter is listed on the New York Stock Exchange, not the NASDAQ. The NASDAQ is traditionally the place for tech IPOs. Maybe they are scared of the technical glitches that harmed Facebook's first day of trading? 
  5. The New York Stock Exchange is very automated and has similar, if not better, technology than the NASDAQ. 
  6. The banks involved in the Twitter IPO make money in the banking fees they charge. For Twitter stock that is 3.2%. It may seem low, but the size of the transaction still means an enormous cut for Goldman Sachs. It's not the percentage, but the dollar amount that counts.
  7. The "roadshow" is the marketing campaign used by Goldman Sachs and the other investments banks to market and sell Twitter stock. Click here to watch the Twitter Roadshow video.
  8. IPO is the abbreviation for Initial Public Offering, the first time a privately held company will become a publicly trade company. 
  9. After the IPO, all the Twitter executives and staff will have money to manage. Goldman Sachs will make their money off the management fees and the recurring fees from that money management. 
  10. The general public, unless they have large accounts, cannot buy Twitter stock before Twitter is officially a listed company. The shares become available to the public to trade after the IPO.
Go log in to Twitter and use their fine service! We're on Twitter: @wallstreetwalks - please follow us!

To learn more about the stock market and how it all works, join one of our History of Wall Street guided walking tours!

For more information about Wall Street and New York's Financial District, join a Wall Street Walks guided walking tour!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

New York City Police Museum Reopens TODAY at 45 Wall Street

We are pleased to announce that the New York City Police Museum, whose original location was severely damaged during Hurricane Sandy, has reopened today (temporarily) in a storefront at 45 Wall Street! Come visit the fine folks at the Police Museum and check out their fascinating displays of historical NYPD artifacts. We just stopped in and we were greeted with warm smiles as we checked out the exhibits: uniforms, gear, weapons, photographs, medals, anecdotes, 9/11 artifacts and even a real NYPD Harley Davidson motorcycle! A great Museum in an absolutely stellar location, right on Wall Street.

Our Wall Street Walks walking tours begin on the next block so the Police Museum is a great place to visit before or after one of our tours. Admission is $5 per person, or FREE with the NY Pass. The Police Museum even has a sweet gift shop where you can get all your REAL, officially-licensed NYPD apparel like sweatshirts and hats.

For more information about Wall Street and New York's Financial District, join a Wall Street Walks guided walking tour!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Panic of 1907 Begins October 19

37 Wall Street, once the Trust Company of America building.
A crash is a sudden collapse or fail, as in that of a financial enterprise.

A panic is “a sudden fright with or without cause” that produces hysterical or irrational behavior, and that often spreads quickly through a group of persons or animals. It may occur in asset markets and involve a rush to convert to more liquid assets (cash).

Financial crises may involve one or both of the above, and it can be in any order.

In this series of posts, we will commemorate the Panic of 1907 by blogging stories of the Panic as they occurred over roughly two weeks in October.

In 1907, J. P. Morgan was very much like today's Warren Buffet. People looked at him for leadership. The 1907 Panic found J. P. at an Episcopal Church Convention in Richmond, Virginia. During the conference, his office kept him abreast of what was happening on Wall Street. Even thought JP was needed, his partners feared a premature return to New York might in itself touch off a panic.
J. P. Morgan

By Saturday October 19th, he decided to rush back to New York by private railroad car. Within two weeks he had saved several trust companies, a leading brokerage house, bailed out New York City and rescued the New York Stock Exchange.

37 Wall Street is the original home of the Trust Company of America, one of the distressed banks rescued by J. P. Morgan during the Panic of 1907. The panic was blamed on many factors – tight money and excessive speculation in copper, mining and railroad stocks. The immediate weakness came from the recklessness of the trust companies.

In the early 1900s, national and most state chartered banks couldn’t take trust accounts (wills, estates and so on) but directed customers to trusts. Traditionally they were synonymous with safe investment.

By 1907 they had exploited every loophole in the law and became highly speculative. To draw money to speculative ventures, they paid exorbitant interest rates. They loaned out so much against stocks and bonds that by October 1907 almost 50% of bank loans in New York were backed by securities as collateral, giving them an extremely shaky base. The trusts also did not keep the high cash reserves of commercial banks and were vulnerable to sudden runs.

Our next post will discuss the fallout from the panic on October 19th.

For more information about Wall Street and New York's Financial District, join a Wall Street Walks guided walking tour!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

New York Ghost Stories: Henry Hudson, the Original “Flying Dutchman”

New York Ghost Stories: Henry Husdson
New York State traditionally has been torn in rivalry between “upstate” and “downstate.” Henry Hudson is both a downstate and an upstate ghost.

Hudson was an English explorer working for the Dutch West India Company. He was the first European to discover the island of Manhattan and the Hudson River in 1609. His discovery of beavers and other fur-bearing animals led the Dutch to come back to trade with the Indians and settle down to farm the land.

He was such a poor master of human relations that every one of his crews in his four voyages mutinied against him. During his last voyage, his crew set him adrift amid the ice floes of Hudson Bay, where he perished. None of the mutineers was punished for their evil deed.

Ever since then, Hudson has been condemned to voyage around the world in search of justice. When severe weather occurs, mariners spot him being blown about by the storm. He has been spotted in or near New York Harbor on more than one occasion. 
A replica of Henry Hudson's ship

Legend has it that every twenty years, since 1609, Henry Hudson and his crew return to bowl ninepins with the gnomes of the Catskills Mountains. The crash of the pins is heard in the form of thunder. Sometimes this thunder is so loud that it can be heard all the way down the Hudson River Valley in New York City.

During stormy weather, Captain Henry Hudson may appear on his ship, the Half Moon, riding out a storm in New York Harbor. Hudson is the original "Flying Dutchman," doomed to meander the seven seas for eternity.

For more New York ghost stories, join a Wall Street Walks downtown Ghost tour!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Wall Street Coin, Currency and Collectibles Show takes place October 17-19, 2013

The Wall Street Collectors Bourse, a show for lovers of financial history, made its debut at the Museum of American Finance in October 2011, and Bourse II was held October 18-20, 2012. Successful beyond expectations, it will be held there again October 2013. The Museum is open free to the public during the event. With its fascinating financial exhibits, MOAF provides an ideal setting for this numismatic show. Museum visitors and students discover the Bourse and bring new interest to the different numismatic collecting hobbies. The theme of Bourse III, “The Romance of Wall Street,” relates financial collectibles to the history of Wall Street and New York City. Archives International Auctions will again host an exciting auction during the Bourse event.
The Wall Street Walks walking tours meet across the street from the Museum, so this is a great opportunity to get more bang for your buck on Wall Street- stop into the Museum and check out the Bourse an hour before your tour begins!
Wall Street Coin, Currency and Collectibles Show III (formerly Wall Street Collectors Bourse)
Dates and Times:
Thursday, Friday, Saturday, October 17-19, 2013
Museum of American Finance
48 Wall Street, New York City
For information:
Wall Street Collectors Bourse, Event Organizer

For more information about Wall Street and New York's Financial District, join a Wall Street Walks guided walking tour!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

New York Ghost Stories: Aaron Burr

New York Ghost Stories: Aaron Burr
Aaron Burr is most well known as the man who shot Alexander Hamilton. Burr was charged with treason 1808.  However, in court he was found not guilty.  After that he went on to live in France in exile.  Eventually, after begging by his daughter Theodosa, President James Madison pardoned him and he returned to New York in 1812.

He was supposed to meet his daughter Theodosa in New York.  It turned out quite differently and today Aaron Burr and his daughter Theodosia make an interesting pair of ghosts in Battery Park.

On December 31, 1812, the beautiful and vivacious Theodosia Burr, wife of wealthy governor Joseph Alston of South Carolina, left her husband’s plantation. She sailed north on the Patriot to visit her beloved father in New York City. In January 1813, British ships intercepted the vessel off Cape Hatteras of North Carolina. Though the two countries were at war, the ship was permitted to continue on its voyage. The Patriot was never seen again. That very night, a storm swept North Carolina and swamped the boat. All the bodies except that of Theodosia washed ashore. 

Aaron Burr is forever doomed to be at Battery Park to await the arrival of his daughter Theodosia. Sometimes Aaron Burr joins the American Merchant Marine Memorial in Battery Park as he keeps watch for his daughter. Liberty Island is in the background.  

Aaron Burr married again late in life in 1833 but his wife separated from him within four months. In 1834, Burr suffered a stroke which left him unable to move. He died in 1836 in a boardinghouse.

Aaron Burr's Death Mask
Now and then, reports emerge that a ghostly Aaron Burr still awaits his daughter at Battery Park.
Another version of the story has Theodosia taken aboard a pirate ship and forced to walk the plank. According to this account, Theodosia’s ghost eventually arrived at her father’s residence, at 3 Wall Street, where she and her dad remain in spooky tandem.

Still another version has her as an amnesiac who lived in a North Carolina town. She had treasure that had somehow survived the sinking. There are numerous tales about Theodosia's fate, detailed here.

For more New York Ghost Stories, join a Wall Street Walks downtown New York Ghost Tour!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

New York Ghost Stories: Captain Kidd

New York Ghost Stories: Captain Kidd
The ghost of Captain William Kidd has been seen at three places downtown – Trinity Church, at the corner of Broad and Wall (in front of Federal Hall and across from the New York Stock Exchange) and at Battery Park.

He was born in Scotland but settled in New York in 1691 on Hanover Square – close to the Harbor and River. Kidd was a privateer, which was another way of saying that he was licensed by the English Crown to attack enemy ships during wartime and share any loot with the Crown and the crew. While living in NY he contributed his services to the building of the original Trinity Churchyard by providing a winch to lift the stones to build the church steeple.

Captain Kidd is one angry ghost, betrayed by his crew and friends in the English and colonial governments. They made him a scapegoat for piracy when he was hanged in 1701 in London. The government charged that he was supposed to be a catcher of pirates. However, Kidd was not permitted to defend himself.

Rumors, legends, myths and tales swept both sides of the Atlantic Ocean that Captain Kidd buried a fabulous horde of treasure on an island before facing trial. Such treasure as Kidd did have— 24 chests full of it— was all brought ashore on Gardiner’s Island, off eastern Long Island, carefully inventoried and, with the permission of John Gardiner, feudal lord of the island, buried in a swamp there. Gardiner’s itemized receipt to Kidd, dated July 17, 1699, listed precisely 1,371.625 ounces (85.73 pounds) of gold, silver and precious stones that was reclaimed by the Massachusetts colonial government.

In 1825, two U.S. Army soldiers, Sergeant Gibbs and Private Woods, thought life had dealt them a winning hand. They were assigned to Fort Wood on Bedloe’s Island (later renamed Liberty Island in honor of the Statue of Liberty). They spent their spare time at night hunting for buried treasure. When they opened a heavy metal box, Captain Kidd’s spirit emerged. They fainted. When they regained consciousness, all they had was an empty box.

Now and then Captain Kidd, walks off his anger on the grounds of Trinity Church, the one place that did not the one place that did not betray him and where he wished that he had been buried.

For more New York Ghost Stories, join a Wall Street Walks downtown ghost tour!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Black Friday: September 24, 1869 - Madams, Moguls and Mediums

Gold prices on a blackboard from the NY Gold Room on Black Friday
Today when Americans talk about Black Friday, we are referring to the big shopping day after Thanksgiving in November. This is a day when many Americans venture out to the shops to begin spending money on Christmas gifts for their families.

The term Black Friday has an older, darker, more salacious meaning though: in 1869, there was a crash on Wall Street that was so sudden and harmful that it resulted in many suicides. The story of the original Black Friday- the crash- involves moguls, mediums and madams entangled in a bizarre set of circumstances.

Josie Mansfield
In the 19th century, rich and powerful men in New York often frequented brothels to avail themselves of the services of the working girls. The madams running these establishments got wise to the possibilities of hosting such men regularly. The girls were trained to extract financial information from their patrons while giving the impression that they were not even listening or understanding what they were hearing. Unbeknownst to these traders, businessmen and political heavyweights, every morsel of information they divulged was being passed to the madam.

Victoria Woodhull
One such working girl was named Josie Mansfield, a friend of Victoria Woodhull. Woodhull was a
successful and well-known fortune teller, and went on to become the first female owner of a Wall Street brokerage firm. Josie became the mistress of financier Jim Fisk, who was a competitor to notable industrialist Cornelius Vanderbilt. Fisk and his partner Jay Gould cooked up a scheme to drive up the price of gold and turn a quick profit by selling at a peak price. Essentially the scheme involves buying enormous quantities of gold, thereby driving prices up. Once the prices reach an acceptably high level, the schemers sell their share and collect a tidy profit.

Jim Fisk
Josie learned of this scheme, of course, from Fisk, and informed her friend Victoria Woodhull. Woodhull was very smart in terms of investing yet she was still selling her services (very successfully) as a medium. Woodhull came to Vanderbilt “in a trance” and advised him to buy gold at $132. Vanderbilt pulled together all of the cash he had and managed to buy $9.5 million worth of gold at $132. This was early in the week.

By Wednesday afternoon, the price of gold had risen to $141. Thursday morning, Fisk and Gould met at Josie’s house to plan their scheme. They decided to buy as much gold as possible and then sell it when it reached $150. They carried out their purchase through anonymous brokers.

On Thursday evening, Woodhull, armed with more exact information, visited Vanderbilt once more and advised him to sell at $150.

On Friday, upon the opening of the market, gold was valued at $150 and Vanderbilt sold his share at a profit. By late morning, the price of gold was at $160.

Gold. Chased for centuries.
Part of Fisk and Gould’s plan involved an Assistant Treasurer named Butterfield who was in on it and stood to profit himself off of this scheme. When the price of gold had hit $162, Butterfield knew he had to inform Washington of the circumstances. The government, in response, instructed Butterfield to sell their shares of gold the following day. Butterfield secretly informed Fisk and Gould, allowing them to sell their shares and make their profit. Butterfield then publicly announced the government’s plan to sell their gold the next day, instantly devaluing the gold price from a high of $162 all the way back down to $132.

Fisk and Gould turned a profit through the scheme. Their chief competitor Vanderbilt did as well, although he did not know he was being fed Fisk & Gould’s info. The rest of Wall Street was left in ruins. The rapid devaluation bankrupted several investment houses and by midnight, 25 people had committed suicide, earning September 24, 1869 the name “Black Friday.”

For more information about Wall Street and New York's Financial District, join a Wall Street Walks guided walking tour!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Buildings of the Financial Crisis: History in the Details

Federal Reserve Bank: note bricks of varying colors
It has been five years since the start of the most recent financial crisis.  Recently, there has been an intense media focus on the crisis: what caused it, what has happened since the crisis, and various projections for the future.  

Many of the buildings where the 2008 financial crisis played out also stood witness to previous stock market crashes and panics, and today we are going to highlight a few of those.  

The Federal Reserve Bank was created after the Panic of 1907, when the government realized they could no longer function without a central bank.  The Federal Reserve was signed into law by Congress in 1913.  It was the eve of the First World War and they decided to delay the construction of the Federal Reserve building in New York until after the war.  After the war, they also decided to construct the Federal Reserve as cheaply as possible. When you look at the Federal Reserve, all the stones are different colors (see photo above).  The construction would have been much more costly if they had used stone of a uniform color.
70 Pine Street was the AIG building.  That building was under construction at the time of the crash of 1929.  70 Pine is one of the beautiful examples of the early implementation of the setback law.  The law read (at the time) that only 25% of the building can rise to an unlimited height.  The rest of the building would have to be set back so that the sky would be more visible and the neighborhood would feel more open. The engineers at the time calculated if they put in regular elevators, there would not be enough floor space to make a commercially viable building, and thus they installed double decker elevators to maximize the floor space.  

It was also very important for buildings before and during the 1930s to have a Wall Street address. 70 Pine therefore has a sky bridge connecting it to Wall Street. 

During the 1930s and the Great Depression, not many people were looking for office space on Wall Street, so the management hired beautiful young women to be the elevator operators, and eventually they were able to rent out the entire building.  
Yellow bricks outline footprint of 1st skyscraper

Another key player in the financial crisis was Goldman Sachs, and in 2008 they were located at 85 Broad Street. Prior to the construction of that office tower in the 1970s and '80s, they did an archaeological dig to try to find the remains of the old New Amsterdam of the 1600s. When you walk alongside Goldman Sachs, have a look at the yellow bricks.  That yellow rectangle inlaid into the brick sidewalks outlines the first “skyscraper” ever built in Manhattan. It was 5 stories high, and constructed in 1642 by the Dutch.

When you walk onto Williams Street, across from Delmonico’s is an Italian bank. That building was the head office of Lehman Brothers for almost 50 years. Lehman moved in there during 1920s, and left in 1979, moving to the recently-constructed World Trade Center.

For more information about Wall Street and New York's Financial District, join a Wall Street Walks guided walking tour!

Monday, September 16, 2013

September 16: AIG Insurance Gets Bailout, Forced to Sell Building

AIG Insurance building
AIG Insurance, once the world's largest insurer, nearly collapsed in September 2008 under losses from bad mortgage bets made by a financial products unit. The U.S. government has since stepped in with up to $180 billion in financial support. On September 16, 2008, AIG Insurance avoided bankruptcy thanks to an $85 billion bailout by the United States government which gave the government a 79.9 percent stake in the insurer.

One condition of this bailout was that AIG would sell their building at 70 Pine Street to raise capital. The building was valued at $330M but they could not find a buyer. In desperation, they sold it for $150M (half of the asking price) to a Korean based investment bank called Kumho in August 2009.

To put that sale into perspective, in December 2011, a Russian billionaire paid $88 million for a 4-bedroom penthouse on Central Park West. Just think: for a measly $62M more, the Russian family could have bought an entire building downtown.

For more information about Wall Street and New York's Financial District, join a Wall Street Walks guided walking tour!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Play with the Smithsonian's fun interactive map of 1836 New York City

From Neatorama:
Smithsonian has an interactive map in which a satellite image of New York is overlaid with a map drawn by cartographer Joseph Colton in 1836. Moving the earlier map around, you can see that the streets are mostly in the same place, but the shorelines have expanded, the islands are bigger, and there is no Central Park -in fact, a lot of the city was countryside and hills back then. Read more about it at the interactive site.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Muriel Siebert, Wall Street Pioneer, Dies at 80

Muriel Siebert, Wall Street Pioneer, Dies at 80.
Muriel Siebert is to Wall Street what Barbara Walters is to television news: a female pioneer in a traditionally male-dominated industry. Today we mourn the passing of a truly iconic and admirable woman.

Muriel Siebert was born September 11, 1932 in Cleveland, Ohio and attended Case Western Reserve University. She left in her junior year when her father was diagnosed with cancer. She came to NY with her Studebaker and $500 in her pocket.

She started her career as a $65/week trainee in research at Bache & Co. She went on to become an industry specialist in airlines and aerospace. At the time, she was paid much less than her male colleagues, despite doing the same work as them. The only way to make more money was to work for herself.

She created Muriel Siebert & Co., Inc and applied for membership on the NYSE. The stock exchange held up her membership for months while they demanded a letter from a bank committing to lending her $300,000 of the record $445,000 seat price. But, no bank would give her a letter without proof that she would be admitted. Siebert was turned down by nine of the first ten men she asked to sponsor her application. Eventually, David Rockefeller, then Chairman of Chase Manhattan Bank, personally signed a check to her to cover the cost.

On December 28, 1967, Muriel Siebert became the first woman in history to own a seat on the floor of the NYSE. This triumph was not well taken by Wall Street, and many derogatory articles about her physical appearance appeared in the various newspapers.

 In 1975, when the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) first permitted broker commissions to be negotiable, Siebert and Co. became the nation's first discount broker. Siebert took out a full-page ad in the Wall Street Journal and appeared in that ad herself, cutting a hundred-dollar bill in half as a symbol of her discount philosophy. As a result, her long-time clearing house dropped her, and she was briefly threatened with expulsion from the NYSE by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

 In 1977, Muriel Siebert became the first female Superintendent of Banks for the State of New York, with oversight of all of the banks in the state, regulating about $500 billion. Not one bank failed during her tenure, despite failures nationwide.

In honor of Siebert's 30th anniversary on the New York Stock Exchange, she rang the closing bell on January 5, 1998. Likewise, on December 28, 2007, exactly 40 years after her election to the membership of the New York Stock Exchange, she rang the closing bell in celebration.

Today we mourn the death of Muriel Siebert and honor her for her lifetime of pioneering work. She was indeed a remarkable woman and would serve well as a role model for today's girls. In a time of dubious accomplishments and vacuous and meaningless fame, we would all be better off prizing Siebert's determination, bravery and fierce pursuit of professional success.

Friday, July 12, 2013

What is Federal Hall?

Federal Hall
What is Federal Hall?
Federal Hall history is fascinating and goes back to the very inception of America. Sticking out like a sore thumb amongst the modern skyscrapers around it, the Federal Hall architecture is the first indication that this is one of the oldest and most important buildings in downtown New York City. To learn more Federal Hall facts, watch our video below:

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Happy Birthday Franz Kafka!

Franz Kafka
Happy birthday to Franz Kafka!

Kafka was born on July 3, 1883 in Prague. Kafka began his career by writing short stories in his spare time. Very few Franz Kafka works were published during his lifetime- his friend Max Brod published many Franz Kafka books after his death in 1924 at the tender age of 40.

Notable writers Albert Camus and Jean-Paul Sartre were heavily influenced by the Franz Kafka bibliography.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

3 Fun Facts About Beer and Early America

Three fun facts about beer in early American history:

  1. In 1754 when George Washington was still a young man, he recorded a beer recipe in his notebook.
  2. 20 years later, during 1775, a year before the start of the Revolutionary War, Congress rationed each soldier one quart of Spruce Beer or Cider per man per day. 
  3. George Washington became the first President of the newly formed United States of America in 1789. He bolstered his "buy American" policy by indicating he will only drink porter brewed in America.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Summer on Stone Street Takes You Back in Time

Summer time is a great time to sit outdoors and enjoy a beer or another beverage on Stone Street.

Stone Street was originally known as "Brouwer Straet" (Brewers Street). In 1632 the West India Company, under leadership of Governor Van Twiller, built a brewery there. During most of the 1700s, the street was called Duke Street. It was later renamed Stone Street because of its cobblestone paving.

The buildings on Stone Street were once stores and lofts built for dry-goods merchants and importers. Construction took place shortly after the Great Fire of 1835. At the time of construction there was neither electricity nor the skyscraper technology. What you see on Stone Street is the scale of the city during the early part of the 1800s- walking down Stone Street gives you a good feel for what New York felt like 200 years ago.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Farmer's Markets in Lower Manhattan

The farmer's market at Bowling Green
Check the farmers markets. There are several in Lower Manhattan.

Fresh produce is arriving. Going to the market really connects you with the changing seasons and the freshest produce. Going to the market is wonderful as you can talk to the farmer and learn more about their produce. When I learned about a hail storm during April, I bought the fruit with the small marks. I understood where they came from- the marks were a result of the hailstones.

Green markets were founded in 1976 providing small family farms the opportunity to sell their locally grown products directly to consumers and to promote regional agriculture. Since then,  many green markets have sprung up around the city. The largest and most well known is probably in Union Square. 

Lower Manhattan has several green markets – at the Staten Island Ferry, at Bowling Green, at the Andaz hotel (on Saturdays), in Zuccotti Park, at the World Financial Centre. Check out their schedules here.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

The New York Chamber of Commerce

New York’s Chamber of Commerce was the first mercantile association in America. It was founded 1768 by twenty merchants in the Fraunces Tavern. It promoted commerce, mediated trade disputes, and lobbied for laws that would facilitate trade and industry. The Chamber of Commerce was one of the main sponsors of the construction of the Eerie Canal. During the 1980s it merged with the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation. Their former building is a spectacular Beaux Arts building located at 65 Liberty Street, almost right next to the Federal Reserve Bank.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

It's Officially Summer in New York City

After Memorial Day it’s “officially summer” in New York. Many offices start to allow their employees to dress down. You are no longer required to wear a tie or suit. Now it's smart casual – polo shirt and dress pants. Some offices do dress down all week and others do it on Fridays only.

Many people start going to their beach houses for the weekend.

Summer programs start – be on the lookout for the free concerts in the parks in NYC. In Lower Manhattan we have the River to River Festival.

There are many free concerts and events. Take the ferry to Governors Island and spend the afternoon gazing at the Lower Manhattan skyline.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Top 3 Memorials to Visit in NYC on Memorial Day Weekend

photo from nycgovparks.org
Today marks the beginning of Memorial Day weekend. Downtown is home to several memorials. Our war memorials provide places of solace and contemplation. Many of them are in public parks and serve as permanent reminders of the high price the USA and other nations had paid for the preservation of freedom and security. Many memorials are paid for by private funding efforts and not federally funded. My three favorite memorials are:

Korean War Memorial aka The Universal Soldier 
One of the most striking memorials in New York. The 15-foot-tall black granite monument is in the shape of a Korean War soldier. The center is cut out. You can see the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island by looking through the silhouette. Every July 27 at 10 a.m., the anniversary of the exact moment in New York when hostilities ceased in Korea, the sun shines through the soldier’s head and illuminates the commemorative plaque installed in the ground at the foot of the statue.

American Merchant Mariners’ Memorial 
It is on a breakwater close to where you line up to board the Statue of Liberty ferry in Battery Park. The monument is a bronze group of men clinging to their sinking boat. During World War II their boat (a merchant marine vessel) was struck by a Nazi U-Boat. They were photographed by the Germans while their boat sank.

Vietnam War Memorial
Located at 55 Water Street (which was the largest office building east of the Mississippi River during the 1970s when it was built). The Vietnam Memorial was flooded during hurricane Sandy and some repairs in the area are still underway. The Vietnam Veterans Plaza honors the 1741 New Yorkers who died during the Vietnam war (1964-1975) In total 250,000 New Yorkers served in the United States armed forces. The Vietnam War tried to curb the spread of communism in Southeast Asia.

Friday, May 17, 2013

The Buttonwood Agreement in 1792 Gave Birth to the New York Stock Exchange

By early 1792, Wall Street was enjoying its first bull market. Several merchants, encouraged by the increased activity, kept a small inventory of securities on hand that would be sold over the counter like any other of their wares. Today’s over-the-counter market got its name from this early form of trading. Business was booming. Some days as many as 100 bank shares would be traded. Things were at times very chaotic and businessmen realized that it needed to be organized.

On May 17, 1792, twenty-four men signed a document they called “The Buttonwood Agreement”. In the agreement they agreed to trade securities only amongst themselves, to maintain fixed commission rates, and to avoid other auctions. The Buttonwood Agreement turned trading into a member’s only activity. The Buttonwood Agreement signers are considered to be the original members of the New York Stock Exchange. Trading took place outside, under the tree, until the Tontine Coffee House was completed the following year in 1793. The Tontine Coffee House was located at the northwest corner of Wall and William Streets.

The Buttonwood tree stood outside at about 68 Wall Street today. The tree stood on Wall Street until June 14, 1865 when it fell over during a storm. The news was treated like the death of a family member, and it was was widely reported in all the local media.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

“LITTLE SYRIA” - NYC's Forgotten Neighborhood

Friday, May 3, 2013 - Monday, May 27, 2013
3LD Art & Technology Center
80 Greenwich Street, New York, NY 10006

by Wall Street Walks Tour Guide Marie Beirne

In the 1980’s, when I worked at NASDAQ on the 98th Floor of Two World Trade Center, every evening I waited for the x90 express bus to Yorkville, in front of St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church which once stood across Liberty Street from the South Tower.

I have very fond memories of that divine and beloved little church, surrounded on three sides by the parking lot…looking a little lonely and frail, all by itself, especially at nightfall.

Tonight, at a lecture,  I found out that after 9/11, when workers got to the foundation of the destroyed St. Nicholas’,  buried in the rubble, they found artifacts of an old church, the cornerstone of St. Joseph's from “Little Syria”, New York City. The cornerstone now resides in Our Lady of Lebanon Maronite Cathedral in Brooklyn Heights.

It is rare for New Yorkers to be surprised with news of an old neighborhood you never heard of before…what a delight the discovery of “Little Syria” was for the audience.

On April 30 at the 9/11 Tribute Center, Linda Jacobs, author, archaeologist, and an expert on the Syrian immigrant community in New York City, and Todd Fine, co-founder of the “Save Washington Street,” preservation campaign presented “Little Syria’: Lower Manhattan Before the World Trade Center,” a discussion on the history of the neighborhood in the southwestern corner of Lower Manhattan.

Beginning in the late 1800’s, the neighborhood developed a flavor of the Arab world from which many of the immigrants originated.  Their entrepreneurial spirit transformed the neighborhood, which came to be known as “Little Syria”, into a thriving community lined with shops and coffeehouses. Many of these immigrants owned small restaurants and grocery stores and had easy access to the docks where produce was brought in on boats from New Jersey.  Each furnished with signs written in their native Arabic.  Here bilingual Arab-Americans raised their families, educated their children, formed religious and community organizations and gradually became part of the life of the city of New York.

Eventually the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel and the World Trade Center displaced the folks in this neighborhood who moved to Atlantic Avenue and other neighborhoods of Brooklyn. 

Most New Yorkers, and even many Lebanese-Americans and Arab-Americans, are unaware that Lower Manhattan — along Washington Street from Battery Park through the 9/11 Memorial to Chambers Street — was once the center of Arab-American life in the United States, from the 1870s to the 1940s called “Little Syria” or the “Mother Colony.”

Today, only three buildings from that era remain and are physically connected: 103 Washington Street, an Arab church that served as a Irish bar for many years.   The New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission designated the building a New York City landmark on July 14, 2009. 

Two other remaining buildings: 105-107 Washington Street, a community house inaugurated by the governor of New York Al Smith to serve the “Little Syria” neighborhood; and 109 Washington Street, a tenement building still containing apartments are now part of an active campaign by Save Washington Street [http://savewashingtonstreet.org/history/] a national coalition of organizations and individuals advocating for the preservation of the last two sites.

While the coalition’s first objective is to achieve the landmark designation of the community center at 105-107 Washington Street, already advocated by Community Board 1 of New York City, the long-term goal of the coalition is to improve education about this diverse neighborhood, and about Arab-American history .

Be sure to discover “Little Syria” for yourself, starting on May 3, and continuing through May 27, the Arab American National Museum (based in Dearborn, Michigan) will present at the 3LD Art & Technology Center (80 Greenwich Street) an exhibition documenting the neighborhood's history.

Join Wall Street Walks on one of our guided walking tours to uncover more of the many, many secrets of NYC. We offer an exciting peek at the New York no one else knows!