My stop on the subway is at Wall Street. It’s a cliché. You know the “Wall Street” type who gets off at the Wall Street stop and goes to work on “Wall Street” with a “Wall Street Journal” tucked under his arm. I’m not that guy. I just get off at Wall Street station. I walk past all the kiosks selling actual newspapers made from dead trees to Broad Street and the New York Stock Exchange. No. The New York Stock Exchange is not really located on Wall Street. The side of the building is but the big front part you see in pictures with the flags is on Broad Street.
The intersection of Broad Street and Wall Street is a pretty historic place. It’s a stone’s throw down Broad Street to Nassau Street to the New York Federal Reserve building, an impressive piece of architecture in its own right. The building looks like a fortress. But the real thrill is standing at the intersection of Wall and Broad where you can see the giant statue of George Washington in front of Federal Hall. The spot is the place where Washington was sworn in as president and served in various capacities for the nascent U.S. Government. Among them were the first Capitol of the United States, the place where the Bill of Rights was passed, and the first United States Customs House. It’s a monument now. Less famously, I was interviewed by Robert Scoble there for his web show on Building 43.
On my way to work, I usually pause to look up at the exterior of the Exchange as I thread my way around the real Wall Street types, the NYPD armed teams (yes, if you go to the Stock Exchange you will see fully armed NYPD, armored police vehicles and K9 patrols) and the tourists taking pictures in front of the Exchange or Federal Hall to see what big company or sometimes which country has sprung for a humungous flag to advertise on the outside of the building. Otherwise it’s a pretty impressive American Flag. I prefer the patriotic uniformity of the all American Flag motif.
After passing up the Stock Exchange and its security checkpoints to enter the building I take the back way up Exchange Street off of Broad Street up to New Street to my building. Up to the Seventeenth Floor I go where I work as the Director of Online Communications for The ALS Association Greater New York Chapter.
History surrounds my day as I work at a nonprofit helping people with ALS, a disease whose namesake is one of the greatest Yankees to every play baseball, Lou Gehrig.
Some times you get up, go to work and pass by all these great historic places and events and never bat an eye, too busy in your own thoughts or daily routine to notice. Other days you can look up and see that the place where you live and work is surrounded by history. I happen to be lucky to work in one of the greatest cities in the world, whose shape and character constantly evolves over time, but even in the face of great tragedy, we try to both honor the past and look to the future.