The New York Stock Exchange began over two hundred years ago when, faced with cut rate competition from a group of powerful government bond merchants, twenty-four brokers signed the Buttonwood Tree Agreement. The agreement created a closed club in which members agreed to trade only with each other and to abide by a 0.25% commission rate.
A year later the organization itself moved indoors, to the Tontine Coffee House, but unless the weather was particularly vile, trading itself still took place outdoors.
1792 Buttonwood Tree Agreement
The May 17, 1792 Buttonwood Tree Agreement was named after the huge Sycamore (known in the vernacular as a Buttonwood Tree) in front of 68 Wall Street under which brokers gathered to trade.