|The Stock Exchange Building in 1899. In the foreground to the left is the J. P. Morgan & Co. headquarters. photo from the collection of the New-York Historical Society|
The new building was shaped more or less like a T. The main facade faced Broad Street, while a narrow wing (more like a corridor) opened onto Wall Street and a larger section faced New Street. Decades later Gustav Kobbe explained why the narrow passage from the main building to Wall Street existed, saying simply "but of course it would have been absurd for the institution which rules and sometimes almost ruins the country financially, not to have an entrance on Wall street." The building was not the property of the Exchange, as might be expected, but was rented.
The New York Stock Exchange had been formed in 1792 "when the originators formed the association under a button-wood tree in front of what is now No. 60 Wall Street," as remembered by Henry Clews in his 1888 book Twenty-Eight Years in Wall Street. It met in various locations over the early years, until 1842 when it moved into the new Merchants' Exchange building. Fifteen years later it moved again to what Clews called the "Dan Lord's Building" with entrances on William and Beaver Streets.
Then, in 1863 membership and business increased rapidly and a second building, on Broad Street, was taken to handle the overflow. Before long plans were laid for a single Exchange headquarters at No. 10 Broad Street.
|The Exchange as it appeared in December 1865. Manual of the Corporation of the City of New York, 1865 (copyright expired)|
It would not take long for the Exchange to outgrow its new accommodations. The directors were also faced with another problem: many of the manufacturing and retail groups were leaving the downtown area, moving further uptown to Tribeca and beyond. There was the possibility that the banking industry would follow.
On November 19, 1870 The New York Herald announced that the Stock Exchange had purchased the Broad Street building for $57,500. "This arrangement will benefit the Stock Exchange to a considerable extent, as in five years the amount of their saving will be equal to the present cost of the building. The question whether the business of Wall street, like the other branches of commerce, is to take its course further up town remains yet to be decided." The cost of the Exchange paid for the building would equal about $1.1 million today.
|from the collection of the New York Public Library|
The renovated headquarters opened in September 1871. Renwick faced the structure in white marble and widened the portico, adding paired red granite columns that upheld the long entablature. He turned from Italianate to French Second Empire, replacing the classical pediments with arched openings
Negotiations for the abutting properties to the south, owned by the John D. March estate had dragged on until now, when the owners agreed to sell for $375,000. The Exchange now owned, in addition to its current building, Nos. 14 through 20 Broad Street and Nos. 14 through 18 New Street. "The intention of the Exchange is to improve and rent the buildings now on it for the present, and at a future time to cover the entire plot with a magnificent Exchange Building," said The Times.
That magnificent building would have to wait; but in September 1880 the directors called back James Renwick, Jr. to enlarge the building once again. No. 14 Broad Street was demolished and the structure widened and a fifth floor in the form of a mansard added. The portico was extended to accommodate three entrances. The building now stretched 65 feet wide along Broad Street.
The Manufacturer and Builder projected the cost of the alterations at $230,000 (or about $5.7 million today). Henry Clews estimated the cost of maintaining the building, including staff, at another $200,000 a year.
|Hughson Hawley's 1882 print clearly shows the red granite columns. from the collection of the New York Public Library.|
Regarding the perfumed air, Harper's New Monthly Magazine commented "'What bouquet have you this morning, doctor?' is not an uncommon inquiry of the superintendent."
|James Renwick's exotically decorated Board Room (or main trading room) was brilliantly stenciled. Three massive electric lighting fixtures illuminated the space. Twenty-Eight Years in Wall Street, 1888 (copyright expired)|
|The "Long Room" for telegraph apparatus was lit by a stained glass ceiling. King's Views of New York City 1893 (copyright expired)|
|from the collection of the New-York Historical Society|
Gustav Kobbe in his 1891 travel guide New York and It's Environs described the Board Room saying "The turmoil of this room must be heard to be appreciated--to describe it is impossible. It surpasses even the proverbial bear garden. Perhaps it is more like a tribe of Indians executing a war dance than anything else."
Far different from today, however, was the existence of the Stock Exchange Glee Club, which gave concerts at least once at year at Chickering Hall and sometimes elsewhere. And at Christmas all bitterness and rivalry was set aside for what was called the Christmas Carnival after the closing bell on the last business day before the holiday. The dignified brokers suddenly acted like impish college boys. Harper's explained:
At the Christmas season it luxuriates in the blowing of tin horns and bugles, smashing of broker hats, pelting with blown bladders, wet towels, and surreptitious snow-balls, and in the sly insertion of the cooling crystals between the collars and necks of unsuspecting brethren. Hot pennies are sometimes substituted.
|Normally stuffy brokers dance together during a Christmas Carnival in the Exchange. Harper's New Monthly Magazine, November 1885 (copyright expired)|
In January 1899 the Exchange purchased another abutting property, the six-story building at No. 8 Broad Street. Six months later a competition among three prominent architects--George Kramer Thompson, Bruce Price and George B. Post--to design a new structure that would cover all of the Exchanged-owned properties was held.
On December 14, 1899 the New-York Tribune reported that the Governing Committee of the New-York Stock Exchange had not yet been decided "whether a new building covering the whole area will be erected or merely alterations designed to increase the Board Room space will be made." Nevertheless, architect George B. Post had already won the competition and submitted his plans.
It did not take the Board long to make up its mind and in July 1900 the Stock Exchange was moved to temporary quarters in the Produce Exchange while the old building was demolished and a new one constructed. George B. Post's $1 million structure--an icon of New York City and American finance today--was completed in 1903.
|The newly-completed Stock Exchange sits next to the 1890 Wilks Building.in this early postcard view.|