On May 17, 1792—228 years ago—the New York Stock Exchange was founded.
Twenty-four brokers gathered by a buttonwood tree on Wall Street, in New York City, to sign an agreement about commissions that would become a foundational financial document for centuries to come.
Early securities exchanges were intermediated by auctioneers, who also conducted auctions of commodities such as wheat and tobacco. The agreement, named the "Buttonwood Agreement," eliminated the need for auctioneers and set a commission rate.
One year later, in 1793, traders conducted their business inside the Tontine Coffee House. Twenty-some years later, in 1817, the organization officially became the New York Stock & Exchange Board, later simplified to the New York Stock Exchange in 1863.
By 1869, membership had to be capped, and has been sporadically increased since.
The location changed several times before settling into its present location at 11 Wall Street in 1865.
In 1878, telephones were installed, giving investors direct access to brokers on the floor of the exchange. The increased activity made the exchange cap the number of members to 1,060, seats.
The 1929 crash led to heavy regulation by the U.S. government. The NYSE subsequently registered with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission.
The famous signal to start and stop trading was not always a bell. The original signal was a gavel and for a time, a gong.
Today, the New York Stock Exchange is by far the world's largest stock exchange by market capitalization of its listed companies at $22.9 trillion as of 2019.