Audio Guide

Skyline of New York at sunset

The Buttonwood Agreement

Narrated by David J Cowen, President & CEO for the Museum of American Finance


It's 1792, and New York City is in a financial panic. The new nation started a few short years earlier, and Treasury Secretary Hamilton's plan created much financial growth. But a sharp selloff in securities is now creating havoc in the city. To help bring order to the markets, one of the answers is the historic Buttonwood Agreement, signed under a buttonwood tree by twenty-four brokers on Wall Street. Wall Street did indeed once have a wall, but that barrier is long gone, and now the street will start a new legacy, one that makes Wall Street interchangeable with finance. This agreement marks the beginning of what the New York Stock Exchange considers the date it was founded. The New York Stock Exchange and the NASDAQ, founded in 1971, are symbolic of New York City’s worldwide financial influence. 

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