5 Things You Didn't Know About The NYSE

On May 17, 1792, the New York Stock Exchange was founded by brokers meeting under a tree on what is now Wall Street. Here are five surprising facts you probably didn’t know about the NYSE...


It Isn’t America’s Oldest Stock Exchange The New York Stock Exchange was established in 1792 when a few dozen merchants and stockbrokers gathered in front of 68 Wall Street and began trading. Yet despite its age, the NYSE doesn't have the distinction of being the first U.S. stock exchange. That instead goes to the Philadelphia Stock Exchange, which was founded in 1790. As the center of economic power shifted to New York from Pennsylvania, the Philadelphia exchange waned in importance, as the NYSE gained financial supremacy – a role that it maintains to this day.

It Originally Used “Deer” to Deliver Stock Quotes Before the age of the telephone or any other suitable technology, the exchange would employ runners who would run from the exchange to the offices of local brokers to deliver quotes on the stock. These people were known as ‘deer’. From 1903 stock orders were sent by way of pneumatic tubes. This practice continued until the 1960s despite telephones being available from 1878.


The NYSE Is One of the Few That Uses Floor Traders Electronic trading has caused many trading floors around the world to close, but it is still alive and well in New York. The NYSE is the only place in the world where the trading floor is still used. Designated brokers and market makers remain on the stock exchange floor matching sellers and buyers as well as minimizing the volatility of share prices. Although there are far fewer floor traders than there used to be, 500 to 1,000 have responsibilities on the NYSE trading floor on typical days.

The Stock Exchange Used to Ring in the Day With a Chinese Gong Until 1903, a day at the NYSE began by ringing a Chinese gong. The gong was replaced with two brass bells that rang at the same time, but it was annoyingly loud and one was moved to a separate room to lower the noise. There are four bells used now, which are located in the four main parts of the stock exchange, and they are rung each day at 9:30 a.m. and again at closing at 4:00 p.m. The bell is rung for 10 seconds to open the exchange in the morning and for 15 seconds to close it in the afternoon. Any deviation from those times often sees traders booing the ringer!

Guests Are Invited to Ring the Opening Bell A little boy, age 10, was the first person to ring the opening bell as a guest back in 1956 as a prize in a television quiz. After the 1990s, the practice of inviting a guest to ring the bell became more common and was granted to companies who had just announced a public offering or were starting a new business unit. Celebrities such as Sylvester Stallone and world leaders such as Nelson Mandela and Tony Blair have also pushed the button that starts the day.