You can go during the day when the markets are open, but it is also worth a visit at night when the facade is dramatically illuminated. Less excitement in the air, but beautiful nonetheless
Alexander Hamilton, then First Secretary of the Treasury, first issued bonds in 1790, to consolidate the debts accumulated during the American revolution and thus lend credibility to the new nation. That was when securities trading began: traders would gather under a buttonwood tree and haggle on prices and terms. Once the Buttonwood Agreement was signed in 1792, the predecessor of the New York Stock Exchange was born.
Found on 11 Wall Street, behind a grand Romanesque facade, the New York Stock Exchange remains the heart of world finance. Every day about a billion shares change hands there. It epitomises free trade, power and prestige; and perhaps greed, deception and manipulation too. It was both Gordon Gecko’s stamping ground and where the anticapitalist group Rage Against the Machine were famously arrested for their impromptu, live performance of “Sleep Now in the Fire”. The Occupy Wall Street movement kicked off in the nearby Zuccotti park in 2011. Simply put, the atmosphere is electric.
The Bonfire of Vanities
Prior to 9/11, it was actually possible to visit the Exchange. You could pick up a free ticket and observe the trading floor: people in different colour jackets signifying their roles, the multitude of computer screens, the frenzied waving, the surging roars, the ticker tape and the mirage of riches. Nowadays, admittance to the trading floor for non-employees is no longer allowed and the entrance is better guarded than most airports. However, tours can still be had — so book in if you want to catch a glimpse of where the world is run.
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