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Exploring the Financial District: The Birth of the New York Stock Exchange

Picture this: Twenty-four men huddling under the expansive branches of a buttonwood tree, signing a historic agreement that would lay the foundation for the world's largest stock market.

New York Stock Exchange

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Today, the skyscrapers of the Financial District may dwarf that solitary tree, but its symbolic presence remains. It's not just an address at 68 Wall Street, it’s the very birthplace of modern finance.

Today's world may be digitized, but nothing beats the thrill of standing where these traders once congregated. As the American sycamore, then known as the buttonwood, provided shade and shelter, an agreement that would shake the world was signed. This Buttonwood Agreement, signed in May 1792, essentially carved out the rules of the game for buying and selling bonds and shares of companies. From these humble beginnings sprung the mighty New York Stock Exchange.

Initially, these pioneering traders met wherever they could – from bustling coffee shops to private homes, until their efforts culminated in the majestic New York Stock Exchange building in 1903. Today, a small sycamore at 18 Broad Street stands as a living tribute to the influential gathering under the buttonwood tree, marking the Financial District's momentous contribution to global economics.

Many more New York City stories and tours await. Discover more local history with our New York audio walking tours, and see which nearby New York City neighborhoods you want to explore next!


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