THE NEW YORK STOCK EXCHANGE; COTTON EXCHANGE.
Leaving the Curb we are soon in front of the imposing, many pillared building of the Stock Exchange. All the sightseeing buses stop here, as well as at other interesting points in this section. Admission to the Stock Exchange is now restricted; a card of introduction may, however, be easily obtained either from your own banker or by request from most of the larger broker-age houses in the neighborhood. The interior of the building is like a large theatre without seats.
Visitors view the "floor" from a gallery. Scattered throughout the floor are various posts labeled "Steel," "Union Pacific," "Sugar," "Tobacco," etc., etc. Around these posts gather the brokers who specialize in these particular stocks. Nowadays the number of securities listed on 'Change, as they call it, is so great that no one broker professes to know them all intimately. The tendency is to make a study of one or two stocks and follow their movements closely. On the wall is a huge blackboard on which numbers appear and disappear continually. These are signals indicating that a telephone or telegram has been received for such and such a member whose number corresponds with the one flashed on the board.
The member at once repairs to his telephone booth or looks for the appearance of the messenger who is sure to be looking for him on the floor. Seconds are precious in the Stock Exchange and none are lost needlessly.
Except in times of great financial excitement, the scene in the Exchange is that of an orderly, well conducted organization. Members move about from post to post, stop to chat with each other or sit down on the sofas that encircle the posts. Ever and anon the Chairman raps for order, reads some announcement, and the routine is resumed. Save for this occasional interruption the steady hum of conversation continues till the sound of the bell at 3 o'clock, ending the day's session.
At other times, when some tragic happening has occurred to upset the financial world, like the late war or the assassination of a President, the scene beggars description. Pandemonium is let loose and the scene of confusion and excitement is something that will remain in the spectator's mind for a lifetime. The galleries are soon filled to capacity. There seems to be some-thing irresistibly fascinating in watching the wiping out of a fortune. You are aware that the millionaire of the morning is the pauper of the night. You almost see great wealth in the very act of dissolution. Ruin and misery will follow in its train. Great families will go down in despair. Yet you hang on and cannot tear yourself away from the frightful spectacle. It is a singular trait in human nature.
The other exchanges are also in the immediate neighborhood. The Produce Exchange, in which is located "the Pit," that singular name for the trading of wheat, is located on Pearl Street. William E. Norris has tried to tell us something of the tragedy and heartbreaks that have sprung from "the Pit," but the wildest dreams graphical Union repair to the resting place of the first printer in New York and bedeck his grave with flowers. Hanover Square, in front of the exchange, is named after George I. of Hanover, and was a fashionable centre of English New York.
The India House, a private club modeled after a similar organization that flourished in New York a century ago, faces the square and is well worth a visit. It has a wonderful collection of ship models and old prints of ships and steamers, be-sides many other recollections of the Asiatic trade which was formerly a great factor in the port of New York. The India House might be said to be a memorial of the late Major Willard Straight, a young financier who died in France during war service, and who was mainly responsible for its organization.
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