The New York Stock Exchange took centuries to become what it is today. In 1817, the Buttonwood traders observed and visited the Philadelphia Merchants Exchange to mimic their exchange model, creating the New York Stock and Exchange Board.
The members had a dress code and had to gain a seat in the exchange. They also had to pay a fee, which increased from $25 to $100 by 1837.
After the Great Fire of 1835 wiped out 700 buildings in lower Manhattan, Wall Street suffered a significant property loss. Fortunately, Samuel Morse opened a telegraph demonstration office, which allowed brokerages to communicate remotely.
In 1903, the doors of NYSE opened with hundreds of stock certificates held underground in vaults.
The stock market surged and hit a 50% high in 1928 despite indications of an economic downturn. In 1929, the market dropped 11% in an event known as Black Thursday. The drop in the market causes investors to panic, and it took all of the 1930s to recover from the crash. This period is known as the Great Depression.
Since then, the market has experienced several other crashes, notably the subprime mortgage crash in 2008.
Although the NYSE was created by a few merchants centuries ago, many investors, exchange executives, companies, and regulators have contributed to its growth and what it is today.