The Skyscraper Museum is devoted to the study of high-rise building, past, present, and future. The Museum explores tall buildings as objects of design, products of technology, sites of construction, investments in real estate, and places of work and residence. This site will look better in a browser that supports web standards, but it is accessible to any browser or Internet device.

Installation Walkthrough

"Wall Street" is both a broad metaphor for the American center for global finance and a real place with an inordinately rich history layered into every lot of its nearly half-mile length, stretching from Trinity Church on Broadway to the East River. From colonial times, when the first bastions were erected to mark the edge of town, Wall Street has been continuously transformed, both in function --from commercial and residential to financial-- as well as in scale. Row houses were replaced by low-rise banks, then massive high-rise office buildings. The skyscrapers that line Wall Street today represent the climax species of an intense urban process. Documenting all buildings at Wall Street addresses since 1850, the exhibition demonstrates the cycles of growth that shaped the financial district over time, charting both the evolution from small to tall and the growing girth of buildings enabled by new technologies and slow, but savvy site assembly.

Wall Street's high-rise history illustrates and exaggerates the typical story of skyscraper development expressed by the value of land and the demand for prime locations. As the district became the center of finance in the mid-19th century, Wall Street lots became the richest dirt on earth, selling at the highest prices per square foot ever recorded. The multiplicity of small lots and continuous occupation for more than 300 years also meant that Wall Street's big buildings represented the most expensive and challenging engineering and construction projects of their time. The exhibit explores how high stakes in architecture paralleled financial speculation at the heart of the capital of capitalism.

THE SKYSCRAPER MUSEUM THANKS Deutsche Bank for its generous support of The Rise of Wall Street

For making available artifacts and historical material, we thank Jeffrey Cohen; Mark Tomasko; Judith Stonehill; Andrew Alpern; Lewis Weinfeld; Percy R. Pyne IV; HLW International LLP, Keith Hanadel, Ted Hammer, Ron Trenouth and Pat Kinzler; George Klein and Beverly Keitz of Park Tower Group; Anne Walker and Peter Pennoyer of Peter Pennoyer Architects P.C.; The New York Public Library; Janet Parks, Curator of Drawings and Archives at Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library; Christopher Gray and The Office for Metropolitan History; Janet Linde of the New York Stock Exchange Archive; Chris McKay of Bank of New York Mellon Archives; Kirsten Aguilera and Dave Cowen of the Museum of American Finance; Elizabeth Berger and the Downtown Alliance; and Jan Berman of MechoShade for providing materials for installation.

Many other individuals gave invaluable assistance. The Museum and its intern research team thank Google Book Search for its awesome power. We thank the interns and staff who researched the history: Emerson Argueta; Nicholas Crummey; Sadatu Dennis; Alan Lucey; Sachin Shukla; Ondel Hylton for modeling the Wall Street sites over time; and volunteer Gideon Sorkin for his dedicated research on steel construction and 40 Wall Street. Thanks to Mariel Villeré, Sydney Talcott, Sakina Namazi and Rebecca Pasternack for their graphic and installation work. Additional thanks to Matthew Pinto of Social-Ink.

This exhibition is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and by the New York State Council on the Arts, a State Agency.


Pre-1850 History of Wall Street
Dutch Origins
New Amsterdam: The Castello Plan
British New York
Early 18th Century
The Slave Market
City Hall
East River Commerce
Fire of 1776
Trinity Churches
Mansions and Banks
Wall Street in 1825
The Great Fire of 1835
Customs House and Merchants Exchange
A Street of Banks
Lowenstrom's Panorama-1850 South
Lowenstrom's Panorama-1850 North
New York in 1850
Fortune 1930
Monuments of Wall Street
Early Photographs of Wall Street
Vertical Wall Street
1 Wall Street
23 and 63 Wall Street
Unbuilt Stock Exchange
14 Wall Street
40 Wall Street
60 Wall Street
120 Wall Street
1928-1931 Towers
East River End
Historical Land Maps