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History of the American Stock Exchange

The history of AMEX can be traced back to the same event that marked the beginning of the NYSE. Due to the need for the United States government to repay debt incurred for the Revolutionary War, they issued $80 million in bonds in 1790. This inspired 24 individuals to begin trading these bonds to increase their wealth. This idea formed the basis for the Buttonwood Agreement. While these individuals formalized their proceedings, other people continued to trade the bonds in a less formal basis in the streets. By 1830, those that were operating in the streets were labeled the curbstone brokers. This was the origin for the American Stock Exchange.

The history of AMEX was based upon investors that were interested in startup companies and projects such as the creation of the railroad system and various turnpikes. When the Gold Rush hit California in 1840, these curbstone brokers turned their efforts toward this new form of business. It wasn’t until 1850 when they joined together in a marketplace on the corner of Wall and Hanover streets. The end of the decade marked the discovery of oil in Pennsylvania and presented another investment opportunity for the curbstone brokers.

The 1860s saw the formation of a more proper organization called the Open Board of Stock Brokers. By the end of this decade, this organization merged with the NYSE, leaving the curbstone traders to concentrate on new industrial companies such as the emerging textile, steel and chemical industries. The late part of this century saw the location move to Broad Street and was the beginning of efforts to once again formalize the practice of street trading. 1908 is the official recognition date of the New York Curb Market Agency which established the history of AMEX. A constitution was drafted in 1911 which set official standards of conduct and saw a name change to New York Curb Market

Due to increasing growth, the history of AMEX continues to bring about change. 1921 saw the need for the organization to move indoors on Greenwich Street. Continuing to grow because of interests in emerging foreign markets, the curbstone traders’ location doubled in size in 1930. It wasn’t until 1953 when the New York Curb Market officially became known as the American Stock Exchange. In 1971, AMEX incorporated as a non-profit organization and many of the processes were performed jointly with the NYSE. Later years saw modifications that incorporate the changing nature of financial markets. From the humble beginnings as a curbside endeavor has become a viable investment option for people around the world.