Wall Street's rich and colorful history as the nexus of the financial world began shortly after the birth of America, when traders gathered in the financial district to exchange shares and bonds with one another. From the outdoor auctions on the street in the late 18th century to the computerized transnational exchanges that exist today, the story of trading on Wall Street is one of innovation, invention and adaptability.
The iconic, modern image of pandemonium on the exchange floor is echoed in photographs and engravings that span the 19th and 20th centuries. Orders that are now electronically transmitted to brokers were once relayed by telephones and pneumatic tubes, and by messenger boys before that. Quotations that can now be streamed to devices that can fit into a trader’s pocket used to be relayed by telegraphic stock tickers, and chalked onto large boards prior to that. Information about buying and selling that is now broadcast instantaneously onto screens and marquees around the world was once carefully handwritten into ledgers.
However, one thing hasn’t changed: the energy and excitement of Wall Street, and the public’s fascination with this seemingly chaotic world.
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