The Big Board, American Exceptionalism and the Good Old Days

The Buttonwood Tree
The Buttonwood Tree

Wall Street originated beneath a buttonwood tree, where a group of traders gathered during the late eighteenth century. Eventually, the New York Stock Exchange came to be headquartered on the corner of Wall and Broad Streets in lower Manhattan, and for many decades, the most prominent banks were located nearby. Although many of those banks are no longer physically located on Wall Street, the term is still used to describe the securities and investment industries. When I started at Bear Stearns at 55 water Street as a dumb kid, there was a great bar one escalator flight up from the lobby called the Buttonwood Bar. Traders , bankers and secretaries were five deep at the bar every night, I just heard about the place. Didn’t sound like any fun.

Big Board seats were all sold for a gazillion by the owners a while back and I should have known something was a foot when the Big Board merged with Euronext . Am I getting all “American Exceptionalism” on you?  Not really, I just miss the good old days. Where was Chicago on this one?

Firm Date Founded Fate
Goldman Sachs 1869 Converted to bank holding company September 21, 2008
Morgan Stanley 1935 Converted to bank holding company September 21, 2008
Merrill Lynch 1914 Acquired by Bank of America September 15, 2008
Lehman Brothers 1850 Filed for bankruptcy September 15, 2008
Bear Stearns 1923 Acquired by JPMorgan March 16, 2008
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