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More Wall Street History

In 1817, the name was changed to the New York Stock and Exchange Board. In 1850 the stock exchange was located at Wall and Hanover, its fifth address. At that time, the Board's total yearly costs including rent and salaries, was less than $5,000.

In 1863, the Board changed its name to the New York Stock Exchange, and moved into the majestic building at the corner of Wall and Broad Streets, where 140 years later, the big exchange still does business today.

The NYSE had competition from smaller exchanges both in New York and other cities. One of the largest New York organizations to compete with them was a group of securities dealers who conducted their business outside, rain or shine. They were known as the Curbstone Brokers.

The Curbstone Brokers were willing to deal with stocks of smaller companies that couldn't meet the requirements to be listed on the Big Board, as the NYSE began to be called.

Relying on prices set earlier in the day at the Board's auction, they would gather in the evenings where they would auction as little as a single share at a time. The big exchange set a minimum of 100.

In 1880, William Worthington Fowler described these after-hour brokers as "they are all eyes and ears, scud and scamper, their fingers quivering like aspen leaves, their mouths pouring out a stream of bids and offers. Disencumbered of all the spare syllables, while they telegraph signals with the ten digits and with nods and winks".

After over 100 years, the Curbstone Brokers decided it was time to move inside. In 1919, they purchased a lot at 86 Trinity Place at the west end of Wall Street, and erected a tall modern building. In 1928, they renamed themselves the New York Curb Exchange and moved into their new home. It wasn't until 1953 that the Curb changed its name to the American Stock Exchange.

How many companies were traded on the early exchanges? The first was the Bank of New York, being established in 1784. In 1800 there were only 295 corporations, of which about 20 traded publicly. In 1835, the listings on the NYSE swelled to 121, many of them railroads. The first American investment bubble occurred at this time and burst in what came to be called The Panic of 1836. In 1869, there were 145 companies listed, including insurance, steel, farm equipment, tobacco, and other manufacturers.

In 1900, the biggest stock was U.S. Steel. Other companies on the New York Stock Exchange were AT&T, Westinghouse, Eastman Kodak, Procter and Gamble, Pillsbury, Sears, Kellogg, and Nabisco Crackers (they introduced their yummy Oreos in 1902).

At this time, the market was roaring. The prevailing wages around the country were quite low, with 10 cents or less per hour considered a fair wage. Women and children, working in sweatshops in the garment district, were paid as little as 25 cents for a 12 hour workday. But a good Wall Street "runner" (delivering paperwork and stock certificates between brokerages) could make the amazing sum of $8 a day, and some successful traders, of course, were making millions.

Although Wall Street has always been an exciting place to work, it has had its danger too. We are all too familiar with the bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993 and its horrific destruction on September 11, 2001.

New York's financial district is no stranger to terrorist assaults. On September 16, 1920, at about noon, a horse-drawn carriage stopped in front of the JP Morgan Building on Wall Street. A powerful bomb exploded, killing 35 people and injured hundreds. No arrests were made. This building still bears the scars of this senseless attack.

Other History of Wall Street and Stock Market Topics:

  1. History of Wall Street and Stock Markets
  2. More Wall Street History
  3. 1929 Stock Market Crash
  4. More Stock Market History

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