Callie Neylan and Brian Reed/NPR
We found 70 towns across the country where a Wall Street hits a Main Street, but it's possible that we missed some. So if you know of another spot where Wall and Main collide, please let us know in the comments section.
Craig LeMoult for NPR
Connecticut Post at the corner of Wall Street and Main Street in Bridgeport, Conn.
Paul Conway sells copies of the
Paul Conway sells copies of the Connecticut Post at the corner of Wall Street and Main Street in Bridgeport, Conn. Craig LeMoult for NPR
Patty Murray for NPR
The Redwood Inn, which sits at the corner of Wall Street and Main Street in the outskirts of Green Bay, Wis., is popular for its chicken special and whiskey old-fashioneds.
The Redwood Inn, which sits at the corner of Wall Street and Main Street in the outskirts of Green Bay, Wis., is popular for its chicken special and whiskey old-fashioneds. Patty Murray for NPR
With the current financial mayhem commanding the nation's attention, politicians can't stop talking about the impact of a metonymical Wall Street on a metaphorical Main Street. But what about the dozens of spots across the country where the two streets literally intersect? People at two such intersections in Connecticut and Wisconsin had the struggling economy on their minds.
At the corner of Wall Street and Main Street in Bridgeport, there's a Holiday Inn on one side and a shoe store on the other. There's also a large brick building that's under construction — the old Arcade Hotel and Mall.
Lewis Nelson, the superintendent of the Arcade renovation site, says that although he's busy with construction jobs for now, the economic downturn has him worried about the future.
"I'm afraid to purchase the things that I want," he says. "I just do the stuff that I need so that, God forbid if something happens, I'll still have some reserves."
Everyone on this symbolic corner seems to know about the government bailout plan, and they all have strong opinions about it.
Nelson supports it. He says he hopes it will make it easier for companies like his to get credit.
"We use credit to get materials. We use credit for a lot of stuff, a lot of credit," he says. "And if the banks aren't giving out credit, we can't do nothing."
Social worker Yolanda Kearney walks by the corner on her way back to work at the state social services office — appropriately closer to Main Street than Wall Street. She says that lately, more of her clients have been calling the office for help.
"They need food vouchers. I have a lot of people calling me for that kind of assistance," Kearney says.
Across the street, Paul Conway is wearing a Connecticut Post baseball cap and selling a stack of newspapers — all of which proclaim in big headline letters, "Senate OKs Bailout."
Conway says he thinks $700 billion would be better spent helping people who are having trouble getting by.
"The lower class is getting hurt all the time," he says. "Actually, I'm going to take that back. I'm going to take a step back, sir. The middle class is getting hurt. Because the rich people don't pay taxes. And I shouldn't be sounding prejudiced for the lower-class people — I'm a lower-class person. They get benefits. And it's the middle-class people that get stuck in the middle — that are paying all the taxes and paying the brunt of it for everybody."
Omega Williams works at her mother's beauty salon down the street. Even though fewer customers are coming in these days, Williams has an almost Zen attitude about the economy.
"I look at it like this: I'm going to be all right one way or the other, so I'm not worried about it," she says. "People got to stop worrying, that's the problem."
But talking to some of the people on both Wall Street and Main Street in Bridgeport, that might be easier said than done.
Green Bay, Wis.
Wall Street hits Main Street just on the outskirts of Green Bay. There's not much around there but a mini storage, a few houses and the Redwood Inn, which is famous for its $4 chicken special — much more affordable than Congress' $700 billion economic bailout plan.
That rescue plan is not popular at this Wisconsin intersection.
"I think it sucks. I think they're selling us out," says Norm Borowski.
While they may be on Wall Street, the Redwood Inn patrons are not hedge fund managers. People in this area are more likely to work in paper mills, build cabinets or teach kids.
Borowski runs construction sites. He says he would rather see economic relief for people like him than for the finance industry.
"Instead of bailing out the AIG, they should take that money and split it between all the people who are taxpayers in the United States," he says.
According to Borowski's wife, Sharon, and others, a whiskey old-fashioned is the drink of choice at the Redwood. Kim and Bob Jaklin are celebrating their 26th wedding anniversary with old-fashioneds in hand. They never noticed that their favorite hangout is at the nexus of Main Street and Wall Street.
The Jaklins say they would like an economic bailout of their own but aren't optimistic about the odds of getting one.
"I'd like my mortgage paid, my up-north cabin paid — after that I'm set to go," Bob Jaklin says.
At the back of the bar is a vintage Pac Man video game, emitting throwback arcade noises. One might say the game is a bit of an allegory for real New York Wall Streeters these days — ravenous big mouths gobbling up everything possible, until they get caught and die in an epic failure.
Craig Lemoult is with WSHU in Connecticut. Patty Murray is with WPR in Wisconsin.