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Wall Street and the Stock Exchanges: Historical Resources

Stock Exchanges

Gottscho-Schleisner, photographer. Museum of the City of New York, 104th St. and 5th Ave., New York City. Stock Exchange, Buttonwood diorama. 1945. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Stock exchanges have a long history in the United States. In 1790, the Philadelphia Stock Exchange, originally named the Board of Brokers of Philadelphia, was founded. Two years later saw another big competitor—the New York Stock Exchange.

New York Stock Exchange

The history of the New York Stock Exchange External begins with the signing of the Buttonwood Agreement by twenty-four New York City stockbrokers and merchants on May 17, 1792, outside of 68 Wall Street under a Buttonwood tree. In the beginning there were five securities traded in New York City with the first listed company on the NYSE being the Bank of New York.

The 24 brokers who signed the agreement, thus becoming the first NYSE members, included individuals as well as firms like Armstrong & Barnewell (William Armstrong, George Barnewell). The full list is as follows:

  • Leonard Bleecker
  • Hugh Smith
  • Armstrong & Barnewall
  • Samuel March • Bernard Hart
  • Alexander Zuntz
  • Andrew D. Barclay
  • Isaac M. Gomez
  • Gulian McEvers
  • Augustine H. Lawrence
  • G. N. Bleecker
  • John Bush
  • Peter Anspach
  • Charles McEvers, Jr.
  • David Reedy
  • Robinson & Hartshorne
  • Sutton & Hardy
  • Benjamin Seixas
  • John Henry
  • John A. Hardenbrook
  • Samuel Beebe
  • Benjamin Winthrop
  • John Ferrers
  • Ephraim Hart

(Source: The NYSE Euronext Archived Web Site: History External)

American Stock Exchange

The American Stock Exchange (AMEX) got its start in the 1800's and was known as the "Curb Exchange" until 1921 because it met as a market at the curbstone on Broad Street near Exchange Place. Its founding date is generally considered as 1921 because this is the year when it moved into new quarters on Trinity. However, it wasn't until 1953 that it officially became the American Stock Exchange. Founded by the National Association of Securities Dealers, the NASDAQ began trading on February 8, 1971, as the world's first electronic stock market, trading for over 2,500 securities. In November 1998, the National Association of Security Dealers announced that the American Stock Exchange would merge with the National Association of Securities Dealers creating "The Nasdaq-Amex Market Group." However, the American Stock Exchange remained as an active exchange.

The twenty-first century brought more changes as shown in the timeline below.

2000 NASDAQ becomes a for-profit company when the membership votes to restructure and spin it off into a shareholder-owned, for-profit company.
April 4, 2007 NYSE Group and Euronext merged to become NYSE Euronext.
May 2007 NASDAQ announced a transaction External to create global exchange and technology company with Swedish Offset Market Exchange (OMX).
November 7, 2007 NASDAQ OMX acquires the Philadelphia Stock Exchange, External the oldest stock exchange in America.
October 1, 2008 NYSE Euronext acquires the American Stock Exchange.
January 16, 2009 NYSE Amex merger is complete.
December 21, 2012 IntercontinentalExchange (ICE) announced it will buy NYSE Euronext. External
May 25, 2018 Stacey Cunningham becomes the first female president of NYSE. External
January 7, 2019

A plan from several banks and brokerage houses was announced to launch Members Exchange External (MEMX) and Jonathan Kellner was later appointed as CEO.