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The Philadelphia Stock Exchange and the City It Made

The Philadelphia Stock Exchange and the City It Made recounts the history of America's first stock exchange and the ways it shaped the growth of the city around it.

The Philadelphia Stock Exchange and the City It Made

Domenic Vitiello. With George E. Thomas

2010 | 272 pages | Cloth $55.00
Business / History
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Table of Contents


Chapter 1. Revolutions in Capitalism: The Origins of the Philadelphia Stock Exchange
Chapter 2. National Capital: The Board of Brokers' Founding Generation
Chapter 3. Trade Wars and Bank Wars: The Board of Brokers in the Early Republic
Chapter 4. The "Workshop of the World": Industrial Capital and Industrial Revolutions
Chapter 5. Bankrolling the Union, Building the Metropolis
Chapter 6. Decadence: The Stock Exchange and the Fall of Philadelphia
Chapter 7. Revival: Making a Postindustrial Market
Chapter 8. Remapping Financial Capitalism: The PHLX's Long Ending


Excerpt [uncorrected, not for citation]

Domenic Vitiello

In 2002, the leaders of the Philadelphia Stock Exchange (PHLX) engaged my colleague George E. Thomas and me to write a book tracing the institution's history. We soon understood that we had been hired to draft its obituary. But we had to wait six years to get to the end of the story, a sale to the NASDAQ approved by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in 2008. In the meantime, the exchange went through major changes that added new chapters to its more than two centuries of making markets. For most of that history, it also profoundly shaped the city and world around it. This book is primarily a history of the institution's relationship with its city and the wider world.

This project was initiated by Meyer "Sandy" Frucher, the chairman and CEO of the Philadelphia Stock Exchange, and John F. Wallace, a longtime member and vice chairman of the exchange, both of whom supported the research in myriad ways. Stephen Sears and Ben Craig helped us refine the focus of the book at its beginning and end, respectively. Mary Ellen Heim and Joseph Keslar coordinated interviews with present and former members and employees of the exchange; and Joseph arranged for the exchange's records to be preserved at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. Barbara Sorid shepherded the entire project, gracefully keeping its many moving parts in line.

The record of the exchange's history of more than two centuries is uneven and sometimes thin. Reconstructing this history therefore required triangulating a variety of sources. For the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the ledgers and letters of member brokerage houses offered a useful window into the market, as well as into brokers' activities outside of the exchange. Some of the exchange's own records survive from the late nineteenth century; and board meeting minutes, annual reports, and other printed materials are relatively abundant for the twentieth century. Newspapers, business publications, corporate records, and the work of many talented Philadelphia historians of various eras helped fill out the story of the institution and the economy around it. Many people kindly assisted this research, including the staffs of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, the Free Library of Philadelphia, the Urban Archives at Temple University, the City of Philadelphia Archives, Van Pelt Library at the University of Pennsylvania, and especially William Howe, the custodian of the stock exchange.

For the decades after World War II, interviews with past and present leaders, members, and staff of the exchange helped make that era come alive. Many people gave generously of their time, including formal interviews—in many cases, more than once—among them, Michael Belman, Al Brinkman, Tom Cameron, John Egan, Doris Elwell, Richard Feinberg, Sandy Frucher, Nick Giordano, Richard Hamilton, Karen Janney, Fred Martin, Thomas Martinelli, Malcolm Pryor, Arnold Staloff, Don Stanton, Norman Steisel, Bill Terrell, Barry Tague, William Uchimoto, Joseph Wagner, John F. Wallace, and Elkins Wetherill. Many people shared old documents and photographs; and Nick Giordano's video interviews with an earlier generation of exchange leaders afforded eyewitness accounts back to the 1920s. Informal interviews with Paul Cerecino and others at Bill O'Shea's party for retired staff helped fill out the history of technology and office culture. Staff and members of the exchange also permitted us to observe life on the trading floor, throughout the offices, and the all-important computers and wiring of the place.

Other scholars made important contributions to this project. Robert Wright shared data on early American corporate finance, offered feedback on an early draft, and helped orient me (an urban historian) to financial history. The economist John Caskey shared his research on the exchange's late twentieth-century history. Colleagues and mentors at the University of Pennsylvania including Leah Gordon, Andrew Heath, Walter Licht, Michael Katz, Jordan Ross, Tom Sugrue, and Laura Wolf-Powers gave thoughtful advice on various parts of the book. Finally, special thanks are due to Eugenie Birch and Gary Hack for their initial suggestion to Sandy Frucher to contact George about Philadelphia history, for their support of my research, and for Genie's mentorship of me as a planning historian.

Most of this account of the exchange's history is mine, and responsibility for any errors in detail or interpretation lies with me. My colleague George Thomas researched and drafted the architectural and cultural history narrative, which I then integrated with the economic, institutional, and urban development narrative. The editors Soumya Iyer and Susanna Margolis helped make rough drafts of this book read far better, and Susanna added some of the celebratory flair that reflects this project's origins in the marketing department of the exchange. At the exchange, Dennis Boylan, Ben Craig, Richard Hamilton, Barbara Sorid, Norman Steisel, Bill Terrell, and John Wallace helped with fact checking.

Susan Snyder and Christy Kwan produced new and adapted maps that help illustrate the exchange and its members' evolving place in the urban and world economy. Ashley Hahn and George Thomas selected and procured images, including some photographs of their own. Bill Whitaker, Erika Lindsey, and Bruce Hansen supplied some final scans. The staff of the Free Library of Philadelphia Print and Picture Department, R. A. Friedman at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, and the staff of the Smithsonian Institution prepared many of these images. Richard Biddle connected me to Geoffrey Biddle, who kindly shared his portrait of Thomas Biddle.

Finally, Jo Joslyn, Erica Ginsburg, Yumeko Kawano, and the rest of the staff at the University of Pennsylvania Press deserve many thanks and high praise for their diligence, patience, and assistance in coordinating a project with many moving parts and a long history of its own.

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