Since its inception in 1792, the New York Stock Exchange has played a central role in American economic development. As finance historian Margaret G. Myers points out, the Exchange originated in the 1790's "as a mechanism for handling the first Issues of government securities," and in time its quotations "became the standard of the country."
The Exchange assumed its position as the Nation's principal securities market early in the 19th century, about the same time that New York City surpassed Philadelphia as the country's chief financial center. During succeeding decades the Exchange grew steadily in size, prestige, and number and volume of issues traded. Eventually, says economic historian Robert Sobel, it came to occupy "a special niche in both the hagiology and demonology of capitalism. Among other things, it is the centerpiece for that great symbol Wall Street."
Over the years the New York Stock Exchange has occupied many structures. It made its headquarters in the Tontine Coffee House until 1817; in rented space at 40 Wall Street from 1817 to 1819; in three temporary locations from 1819 to 1827; in the Merchants' Exchange from 1827 until it was destroyed by fire in 1835; in three more temporary locations from 1835 to 1842; in the Second Merchants' Exchange from 1842 to 1854; in the Corn Exchange Bank building from 1854 to 1856; and in the Lord's Court building at William and Beaver Streets and Exchange Place from 1856 to 1865.
Since 1865, with the exception of 2 years between 1901 and 1903, the Exchange has occupied all or part of the site of its present location. The 10-story building at 18 Broad Street was completed in 1903. It was designed in the NeoClassical style by George B. Post, and built of white Georgia marble. It’s most famous façade features pediment statuary by John Q. A. Ward. The building at 11 Wall Street was built in 1922, and the building at 20 Broad Street completed in 1954. Together, these three buildings fill the block bounded by Wall Street on the north, Broad Street on the East, Exchange Place on the south, and New Street on the west.
The New York Stock Exchange was designated a National Historic Landmark on June 2, 1978.
Find out more about the National Historic Landmarks program.
 Margaret G. Myers, The New York Money Market, Vol. I (New York, 1931), 8, 42
 Robert Sobel, N.Y.S.E.: A History of the New York Stock Exchange, 1935-1975 (New York, 1975), ix.