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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
New York in New York County, New York — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
 

48 Wall Street / 40 Wall Street

Exploring Downtown

 
 
48 Wall Street Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, November 5, 2009
1. 48 Wall Street Marker
Inscription.
< 48 Wall Street Side >
Museum of American Finance
What more appropriate home for the Museum of American Finance than the grand, 30-foot-high banking hall of the former Bank of New York building? The museum – an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution – is the only one of its kind in America. Effectively serving as the New York Stock Exchange’s de facto visitors’ center, the museum displays permanent interactive exhibits on finance, money, entrepreneurship and banking. These feature rare examples of Colonial currency, stock and bond certificates dating from the 18th century to the present; high denomination currency including $1,000, $5,000, and $10,000 bills; and hundreds of images of the financial district. The museum includes a room dedicated to Hamilton, founder of the bank and the country’s first Treasury Secretary.

48 Wall Street
The Bank of New York – oldest bank in the city, founded in 1784 by Alexander Hamilton – commissioned a new headquarters (their third on this site) in 1927. The Bank instructed architect Benjamin Wistar Morris to incorporate something of the institution’s Colonial history in the design. That history is evident inside the main banking hall, where eight murals by J. Monroe Hewlett illustrate the story of American commerce
40 Wall Street Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, November 5, 2009
2. 40 Wall Street Marker
This the reverse side of the above marker.
and the life of the Bank. Outside, the building’s major Colonial reference is meant to be seen from a distance: a tower reminiscent of an 18th-century church, but thirty stories up in the air – definitely the only Colonial tower in the Downtown skyline.

< 40 Wall Street Side >
The Bank of the Manhattan Company
This 20th-century skyscraper has roots in late-18th-century New York, and the historic rivalry between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr. Burr, in 1799, helped found the Manhattan Company, chartered to bring the city safe drinking water. Hamilton in 1784 had organized the Bank of New York, the city’s only such institution, and frowned on the notion of creating a rival. Being a State assemblyman, however, Burr finagled permission from the Legislature for the newly formed Manhattan Company to devote any capital it might raise beyond two million dollars to a different kind of liquidity, thereby becoming the city’s second bank. Eventually, the Bank of Manhattan – having long since abandoned the water business – merged with the Chase National Bank to create Chase Manhattan, a titan on New York’s financial scene.

Skyscraper Rivals
During the 1920s, the Bank of Manhattan engaged in another famous rivalry – for the title of World’s Tallest Building. In 1929, the contest narrowed to just two contenders,
West Side of Wall Street Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, November 5, 2009
3. West Side of Wall Street Marker
pitting Downtown against Midtown: the Bank of Manhattan at 40 Wall Street and the Chrysler Building on 42nd Street, respectively – whose architects, moreover, were former partners. The Bank appeared to be winning when its rooftop flagpole topped Chrysler’s most recently announced height of 925 feet by two feet more. Then Chrysler, in the middle of the night, secretly hoisted through the roof a five-part spire, raising the tower’s height to 1,046 feet and winning the final round of the competition. And that was that – until, of course, the Empire State Building opened 18 months later.
 
Erected by The Alliance for Downtown New York, Inc.
 
Location. 40° 42.383′ N, 74° 0.568′ W. Marker is in New York, New York, in New York County. Marker is at the intersection of Wall Street and William Street, on the left when traveling east on Wall Street. Click for map. Marker is located on the northeast corner of Wall Street and William Street. Marker is in this post office area: New York NY 10005, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Andries Rees’s Tavern (a few steps from this marker); Bank of New York and & Trust Company Building (within shouting distance of this marker); 40 Wall Street
East Side of Wall Street Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, November 5, 2009
4. East Side of Wall Street Marker
(within shouting distance of this marker); Federal Hall National Monument (within shouting distance of this marker); Federal Hall National Memorial (within shouting distance of this marker); On this site in Federal Hall (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Ohio Company of Associates (about 400 feet away); New York Stock Exchange (about 400 feet away). Click for a list of all markers in New York.
 
More about this marker. Several photographs appear on the 48 Wall Street side of the marker, including two of the J. Monroe Hewlett murals and the decorative, curving staircase in the Museum of American Finance; a picture of 48 Wall Street from above; and the earliest known photograph of Wall Street.
The reverse side of the marker contain two images of 40 Wall Street on the left. The first shows the tower from above, while the second depicts a dramatically shaded rendering by Hugh Ferriss showing 40 Wall Street towering over the financial district of an earlier era. The bottom right of the marker features an image of an invitation to the banquet celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Manhattan
Bank of New York image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, November 5, 2009
5. Bank of New York
The marker is located in front of this building, located at 48 Wall Street.
Company.
 
Related markers. Click here for a list of markers that are related to this marker. Take a tour of the markers in lower Manhattan erected by the Alliance for Downtown New York, Inc.
 
Categories. Industry & Commerce
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey. This page has been viewed 1,074 times since then and 5 times this year. Photos:   1. submitted on , by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey.   2. submitted on , by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey.   3. submitted on , by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey.   4, 5. submitted on , by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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