8 March 1817: the New York Stock Exchange is formed

On this day in 1817, a group of brokers moved out of a New York coffee house to form what would become the biggest stock exchange in the world.

The New York Stock Exchange is huge. In fact, at over $25trn, it's the biggest stock exchange in the world by market capitalisation. But its beginnings are a far more humble affair. And it all started under a Buttonwood tree outside 68 Wall Street in May 1792.

That spring day, 24 New York City brokers met to agree on a new system to buy and sell securities, such as bonds and shares. Until then, trading meant going down to the auction, particularly when it came to soft commodities such as wheat and tobacco. But the Buttonwood Agreement changed all that.Of course, in these early days, investing was fairly straightforward. Just five securities mostly bonds were listed from the headquarters at the Tontine Coffee House.

Over the next quarter of a century, American trade grew, and New York overtook Philadelphia has the financial centre of the United States. Twice a day, the president of the exchange would read out a list of securities, at which point the brokers would buy and sell. It was all a far cry from today's world of computer-driven high-frequency trading.

As the number of securities increased, it was time to move out of the coffee shop. On 8 March 1817, the Buttonwood Agreement formally became the New York Stock & Exchange Board, with rented rooms at 40 Wall Street, a new set of rules and a constitution.

The opening of the Erie Canal and the arrival of the railways in America from the 1830s onwards brought a surge in business to the exchange. By 1835, an average of 8,500 shares were being traded daily a 50-fold increase in the space of just seven years.Since then, the New York Stock Exchange has moved home several times, and witnessed numerous boom-and-bust cycles all on its way to becoming the world's biggest and, arguably, most important stock exchange.

Recommended

Key dates for 2023: here are the dates you need to know when it comes to your money in 2023
Personal finance

Key dates for 2023: here are the dates you need to know when it comes to your money in 2023

There is no shortage of important dates to be aware of next year – which are likely to affect your financial health. We run through the key dates in 2…
6 Dec 2022
What is a recession and how will it affect you?
UK Economy

What is a recession and how will it affect you?

The UK economy is heading towards a recession, according to economists. But what is a recession, and what does it mean for your money?
6 Dec 2022
Investment scams are infiltrating Facebook and Instagram
Investment strategy

Investment scams are infiltrating Facebook and Instagram

Research from Which? found hundreds of investment ads on Facebook and Instagram that could be misleading investors into potential investment scams.
6 Dec 2022
Is it a good time to buy an annuity as rates hit a 14-year high?
Pensions

Is it a good time to buy an annuity as rates hit a 14-year high?

Average annual annuity income has risen by nearly £1,000 since the start of the year. We look at whether now is a good time to buy an annuity.
6 Dec 2022

Most Popular

Is it cheaper to leave the heating on low all day?
Personal finance

Is it cheaper to leave the heating on low all day?

The weather is getting colder and energy bills are rising, but is it really cheaper to leave the heating on low all day or should you only turn it on …
1 Dec 2022
Radiator vs electric heater – which is cheaper?
Personal finance

Radiator vs electric heater – which is cheaper?

We compare the costs, pros and cons of radiators and electric heaters and see which one will help keep your energy bill as low as possible.
28 Nov 2022
State pension errors – why tens of thousands of mothers could be missing out on millions in state pension payments
State pensions

State pension errors – why tens of thousands of mothers could be missing out on millions in state pension payments

LCP launches Mothers Missing Millions campaign amid DWP state pension errors.
3 Dec 2022