American Stock Exchange
Former home of the American Stock Exchange before it Merged with the New York Stock Exchange
Backstory and Context
In the early 1900s, stock brokers that were not affiliated with the New York Stock Exchange would buy and sell stocks and securities outside of centralized buildings. Instead they conducted business on curbsides and in coffee shops and other public buildings, due to the high prices of membership to official stock exchange businesses. Trading on the Curb became increasingly common from 1910 until 1918, whether it was old hat for seasoned stock brokers, or if it served as a proving ground for newcomers. In an effort to foster unity and trust among the curb brokers, E. R. McCormick proposed a plan to move the business of the Curb into a building, and the proposal was approved in 1919. A site was scoped out adjacent to Trinity Place and Greenwich Street, and in January of 1920, construction began on the New York Curb Exchange Building. The Building was completed the next year, and business flourished on the Curb for years.
In the years of the Great Depression, business dropped in the Curb Exchange Building, reportedly from 476 million shares in 1929 to 43 million in 1940. In order to combat this, several floors of the Building were leased to other organizations while the Stock Exchange continued below. In a move made to reflect the Curb’s important financial role in the United States, the Building’s name was changed to the American Stock Exchange (AMEX) on January 5, 1953. Following this change, the AMEX saw a surge in business in the 1950s, and profits were double of any amount they had ever received, mainly catering to stocks of smaller businesses. The AMEX was a true competitor to the NYSE, and in the 1970s, the Board of Governors began an expansion program for the AMEX Building, which resulted in the finished construction of a trading mezzanine in 1982, although this did little to expand the space available in the building. During this time, the AMEX Building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in June of 1978.
Business continued in the AMEX Building until 2008, when it merged with NYSE-Euronext, bringing together the two once-rival companies, and on December 1, 2008, the AMEX trading floor was moved to the New York Stock Exchange on Wall Street. In 2009, the AMEX Building closed, and it has been vacant ever since.
"History of the American and NASDAQ Stock Exchanges." History of the NASDAQ and American Stock Exchanges (Business Reference Services, Library of Congress). Accessed March 19, 2017. https://www.loc.gov/rr/business/amex/amex.html.