First, today’s post uses a photo from the Library of Congress collection of Irving Underhill’s group of shots of New York buildings. More on Underhill tomorrow, and this collection will be figuring large in blog posts for the next few weeks.
Second, no matter how much you think you know, you never really know it. The picture above, from 1915 or so, is the Consolidated Stock Exchange on Broad Street. If you’re anything like me, your reaction is “the what?” I grew up with two stock exchanges in New York: the New York Stock Exchange (the famous one) and the American Stock Exchange. The Amex always seemed to be something of an afterthought, and it was bought out by the NYSE in 2008 and moved from its old home on Trinity Place and Greenwich Street to the NYSE building at Broad and Wall Streets. So what was the Consolidated? It turns out to have been another small competitor to the NYSE that seems to have spent most of its existence fighting against unethical behavior by its members. It was eventually (1926-27) put out of business by legal action, but not before, in 1906, it built a neoclassical home for itself at the corner of Broad and Beaver Streets, designed by Clinton & Russell, a firm that was then the epitome of high-end office design. There’s nothing like neo-classical design to give the appearance of social stability.
You have to be rich to own a low-rise building in the financial district, and within a year of the Consolidated’s ultimate demise, the exchange building was sold, to be replaced by a high-rise. The 1928 ITT building was constructed on the site and the adjoining lots, forming the entire Broad Street blockfront for Beaver down to South William Street. I have a soft spot for the ITT Building, despite its frankly ungainly design, because my office window faces it. Here’s the area in the mid-1920s, with the Consolidated Exchange marked:
And here is it is in the mid-1950s, with ITT and our office marked:
The empty lot on South William Street now has a mid-rise garage with a pretty good Chinese restaurant facing the street.