By Charles R. Geisst
How did a small, concentrated pocket of lower Manhattan come to have such enormous influence in national and world affairs? In this wide-ranging volume, economic historian Charles Geisst answers this question as he provides the first history of Wall Street, ranging from the loose association of traders meeting on New York sidewalks and coffee houses in the late 18th century, to the modern billion-dollar computer-driven colossus of today. Geisst's narrative traces several themes--the move of industry and business westward in the early 19th century, the rise of the great Robber Barons, the influence of the securities market on incredible growth of industry, and the gradual increase in government involvement in Wall Street--and also features a look at the some of Wall Street's most colorful and ruthless wheeler dealers. Wall Street is at once a chronicle of the street itself, from the days when the wall was merely a defensive barricade built by Peter Stuyvesant, and in a broader sense it is an engaging economic history of the United States, a tale of profits and losses, endlessly enterprising spirits, and the role Wall Street played in helping America become the most powerful economy in the world.