Gil-Bar Projects

New York Stock Exchange

The New York Stock Exchange Building

As the 20th Century dawned, the NYSE was firmly established as one of America’s preeminent financial institutions. It was also experiencing a sustained rise in trading volume. Trading in listed stocks tripled between 1896 and 1899. It would nearly double again by 1901.

More space was clearly needed. So the Exchange invited eight of New York City’s leading architects to join in a competition to design a grand new building. Their instructions: The trading floor was to have more space, more light, and more convenience for the transaction of business. The Exchange chose the neoclassic design of architect George B. Post. The new Exchange building at 18 Broad Street opened on April 22, 1903 to fanfare and festivity. The Exchange building is considered one of Post’s masterpieces and is a national landmark.

John Quincy Adams Ward, a prolific and well-known American sculptor, designed the pediment. Entitled “Integrity Protecting the Works of Man,” the classical design depicts the 22-foot figure of Integrity in the center, with Agriculture and Mining to her left and Science, Industry and Invention on her right, representing the sources of American prosperity. The waves on either extreme of the pediment symbolize the ocean-to-ocean influence of the Exchange. (In 1936, due to the combined effects of the statuary’s 90-ton weight, along with the ravages of pollution and flaws in the marble, the Exchange replaced the marble figures with lead-coated replicas weighing only 10 tons.)

Among the building’s many architectural marvels:

When it opened, the trading floor was one of the grandest spaces in the nation. It measures 109 by 140 feet and its marble walls rise 72 feet to meet the ornate gilt ceiling.

  • Window wall: The entire front of the building is made of glass, in effect forming one huge window that is 96 feet long and 50 feet high. Another window of the same size forms the New Street front.
  • Skylight: The trading floor is surmounted by a vast skylight, 30 feet square.
  • Air conditioning: The Stock Exchange building was one of the first structures in the world to employ it.
  • Annunciator boards on each end wall of the trading floor were used to page members. Over 24 miles of wiring were installed to run the boards.
  • The new building was notable for its many amenities, including dining rooms and an emergency hospital with an in-house physician.