Monday, October 10, 2022

The Lost Consolidated Stock & Petroleum Exchange - Broadway and Exchange Place


from the collection of the Museum of the City of New York

The rapid expansion of mining in the West resulted in Eastern investors sending large amounts of money to the San Francisco Exchange.  In September 1877 a group of businessmen met to discuss the profitability of a mining exchange in New York.  The concept evolved quickly and on November 1, 1875 the New York Mining Stock Exchange opened at 24 Pine Street.

In 1877 it moved into rented quarters at 60 Broadway, at the corner of Exchange Place.  The organization evolved, absorbing the National Petroleum Exchange in 1883, becoming the Consolidated Stock & Petroleum Exchange.  In 1885 the exchange diversified, adding railroads to its stocks.  

In 1886 membership had grown to 2,400, necessitating a larger, modern structure.  The Broadway building was purchased and a committee was formed to plan a replacement on the site.  A competition for designs was launched, and on December 30, 1886 The New York Times announced, "Out of 13 plans submitted by architects for the new six-story building of the Consolidated Stock and Petroleum Exchange, those of E. D. Lindsey...were selected yesterday by the committee." 

Edward D. Linsey's Romanesque Revival design featured a three-story base of rock-faced stone, and four stories of yellow brick.  Medieval inspired columns separated the grouped, arched openings of the third and seventh floors.  The corners rose to short turrets topped by "witch's caps," and a tall tower crowned the structure.  Linsey's plans estimated construction costs at $282,000--around $8.38 million today.

The cornerstone laying ceremony on September 9, 1887 was a spectacular event.  The New York Times remarked, "The cornerstone is one of the largest, and members of the Consolidated insist that it is the largest, ever laid in the United States."  A procession led by Dodworth's Band marched along Wall Street, Broad Street, Beaver Street, and Broadway to the site.  There a stand was decorated with flags, streamers and bunting.  The New York Times said the stone was laid "With the music of red-coated musicians and the songs of their own glee club, the praises and good wishes of many speakers, and the company of hundreds of guests."

The building opened for business on April 16, 1888 (although, according to The New York Times, "Business was not much attended to, the day being rather a holiday than a day for work.").  There were entrances on New Street as well as Broadway.  For the convenience of the brokers, the building included a barbershop and a restaurant in the basement level.  The top four floors held 120 rentable offices for additional income.  A brochure titled "Description of the New Building of the Consolidated Stock and Petroleum Exchange" claimed, "There is not a dark office in the entire number, as interior courtyards of great size demanded for lighting the exchange insure an unusual degree of light to every room on the four upper floors."

A journalist from The New York Times was impressed with the trading room, which he called "perhaps the finest trading room in the country...The ceilings are high.  Light and air are abundant."  The trading floor was outfitted with modern technology.  Connected to it was a fully staffed telegraph office, and there were enclosed telephone booths that "can be used around all sides of the main floor without disturbance from the noise in the room," according to the brochure.  The New York Times added, "There is decoration on the walls and ceiling in good taste, and in every way the Consolidated brokers have a handsome and practically perfect home."

from Illustrated New York City and Surroundings, 1889 (copyright expired)

On October 15, 1890, New Orleans police chief David Hennessy was shot and killed by unknown gunmen as he walked home from work.  On his deathbed, he identified them only as Italians.  Anti-Italian fervor erupted, with as many as 250 Italians arrested and questioned.  On March 14, 1891 a mob broke into the jail.  Street vendor Emmanuele Polizzi was dragged to the street, hanged from a lamppost, and shot.  A fruit peddler, Antonio Bangetto was hanged from a tree and shot, and nine other Italian prisoners were shot or beaten to death inside.

The incident caused tensions between Italy and the United States.  Both countries recalled their ambassadors and a fear of military conflict loomed.  A reporter from the New-York Tribune interviewed members of the Exchange on April 1 after a slight decline in stocks.  For the most part, they underplayed the violent murders as well as Italy's indignation.   

One, E. R. Chapman, said "It is a 'tempest-in-a-teapot' affair.  The Italian Government has acted hastily and was probably forced to this move by the political complications at home."  The comments of the chairman of the Exchange, A. W. Peters, were shocking.  "My own opinion is that the Italian Government ought to pay us well for what we have done for it.  We have rid the bootleg nation of its brigands and cut-throats and deserve a reward."

from the collection of the New York Public Library

Wealthy brokers like George Rogers Wilson spent their summers at fashionable resorts or country estates.  Unmarried, Wilson had been a member of the Exchange since 1886 and lived with his invalid mother.  Mrs. Wilson, according to the New-York Tribune, "is said to be the owner of considerable property."  On June 15, 1901 the two left New York for the Bevan House at Larchmont-on-the-Sound, New York.  

Wilson was at the Larchmont Yacht Club on the evening of July 14, and left for the hotel at 10:30.  But he never made it there.  The following morning policeman John O'Brien found his coat and straw hat on a rock in Larchmont Manor Park.  The New-York Tribune wrote, "Wilson was well known to the servants.  As far as was known to them he had no bad habits."

Five days after he disappeared, his body was discovered in Larchmont Harbor, about a quarter of a mile from where his belongings had been found.  Expectedly, close friends dismissed the idea that he committed suicide, however they offered no reason why his hat and coat had been removed before he "fell" into the water.

On May 17, 1906 the New-York Tribune reported that Walter B. Warren had purchased the 8,371-square-foot property.  Six months later, on November 4, The New York Times titled an article "New Building Of Imposing Design For The Consolidated Exchange" and reported, "Work will be begun to-morrow morning at the southeast corner of Broad and Beaver Streets on the new building of the Consolidated Stock and Petroleum Exchange."

After having occupied its Broadway building for 20 years, the  last session of the Consolidated Stock and Petroleum Exchange took place on August 24, 1907.  The following Monday it moved into its new home.  The New York Times reported, "trading had hardly ceased yesterday, when the stripping of the old building's interior began."

In the meantime, McKim, Mead & White had designed the replacement building on the Broadway and Exchange Place site for the Knickerbocker Trust Company.   Today a 22-story office building, completed in 1965, occupies the site. has no authorization to reuse the content of this blog

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