Wall Street / Main Street / Elm Street

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Moon Palace

Senior Member
French
Hello everyone,
I encountered the comparison between these three streets in an article from today's NY Times; and if I understand they are metaphors (Wall Street = the financial world; Main Street = the shopping area), I fail to see what Elm Street refers to.

"Neither seems capable of saying anything about the credit crisis except that it’s important to protect Main Street from Wall Street. Don’t the other streets of America deserve a little consideration, candidates? Can we have a few mentions for Elm Street once in a while?"


I would appreciate some help, and I thank you all in advance.
 
  • Meeracat

    Senior Member
    If Wall Street is a finacial metaphor, Main Street a metaphor for the ordinary people, then Elm Street is a metaphor for complete disaster. The last street metaphor refers to a movie called 'Nightmare on Elm Street", a horror movie.
     
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    Moon Palace

    Senior Member
    French
    Thanks a lot, Meeracat. I had thought of this movie, but was not sure she really meant 'horror street' as an allusion to today's crisis (although I guess this was easy), I thought there was something beyond the idea of horror.
    Thanks for your answer nzfauna, but I really didn't have time to watch the movie in order to decipher a journalistic comparison.
     

    cyberpedant

    Senior Member
    English USA, Northeast, NYC
    Although I cannot say "nay" to Nzfauna's and meeracat's analyses, all the Elm Streets I've known (here in the US) were quiet, residential places. Perhaps that's why they chose "Elm Street" as the scene for those horror movies—it's "the last place" you'd expect for that kind of evil to happen.
     

    Meeracat

    Senior Member
    Although I cannot say "nay" to Nzfauna's and meeracat's analyses, all the Elm Streets I've known (here in the US) were quiet, residential places. Perhaps that's why they chose "Elm Street" as the scene for those horror movies—it's "the last place" you'd expect for that kind of evil to happen.
    That is really interesting. I never realised that Elm Street was a metaphor for peace and quiet. It enriches the metaphor of Elm Street as nightmare.
     

    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    Although I cannot say "nay" to Nzfauna's and meeracat's analyses, all the Elm Streets I've known (here in the US) were quiet, residential places. Perhaps that's why they chose "Elm Street" as the scene for those horror movies—it's "the last place" you'd expect for that kind of evil to happen.
    I agree. I think that it may stand for the streets in the suburbs and towns where "ordinary" (non-financiers, non-businessmen) live.

    I don't know whether this is usual elsewhere, but in the US and especially in small towns and residential districts, streets are often named after trees: Elm Street, Maple Street, Oak, and so on.
     

    Meeracat

    Senior Member
    I agree. I think that it may stand for the streets in the suburbs and towns where "ordinary" (non-financiers, non-businessmen) live.

    I don't know whether this is usual elsewhere, but in the US and especially in small towns and residential districts, streets are often named after trees: Elm Street, Maple Street, Oak, and so on.
    Without having read the original article I am now re-thinking my suggestion that the original reference to Elm Street was a reference to the movie.
     

    Moon Palace

    Senior Member
    French
    Thank you all, it does indeed make more sense to talk of calm streets, suburban life as opposed to Main Street and Wall Street which seem to be the center of today's attention. Yet it is purposefully ambiguous too I believe since the comparison (due to the film) also means that these quiet streets could be turned into streets of despair if nothing is done.
    Thanks a lot again. :)
     

    Kevman

    Senior Member
    USA English
    In the context of the article, Elm Street is not an allusion or metaphor. The author is making a joke. Rather than discussing specifics or even necessarily demonstrating much understanding of the financial crisis, politicians and pundits have been bandying and juxtaposing the shorthand metaphors "Wall Street" and "Main Street" ad nauseum over the past couple of weeks. The columnist is jokingly asking, "Hey, how come no one's talking about the other streets? Elm Street? Broadway? Anyone?"
     

    GreenWhiteBlue

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    Wall Street is the symbol of big business and international finance.

    Main Street is symbol for small, local businesses (the usual British equivalent being "High Street".)

    Elm Street (which, if I am not mistaken, is the most common street name in the United States; it is certainly in the top ten) would most commonly be used as a name for a residential street. While streets of this name can certainly be found in densely urbanized city centers, if one were told to picture a street named "Elm Street", the popular image would probably be a quiet street of older, suburban-style houses with large trees, lawns, and flower beds. In this context, to speak of Elm Street in oppostion to Main Street or Wall Street would not be to consider businesses at all, whether large or samll, but instead would take into account the needs and desires of consumers and homeowners.
     
    "Neither seems capable of saying anything about the credit crisis except that it’s important to protect Main Street from Wall Street. Don’t the other streets of America deserve a little consideration, candidates? Can we have a few mentions for Elm Street once in a while?"

    Before I had read any of the analyses in earlier posts, I had interpreted the passage as meaning that there is too much talk of the effect of the financial crisis on the banks and big business (Wall Street), that there should be more concern shown for small businesses (Main Street) and particularly for ordinary people in their homes (Elm Street).
     
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