The advertisement reads "NASDAQ OMX Group completes acquisition of The Philadelphia Stock Exchange". Photo was taken after the corporate purchase of our stock exchange in 2008.
by Marshall James Kavanaugh
For me it was a little known fact that Philadelphia's Stock Exchange is actually the first organized stock exchange in the nation. It was an even larger surprise for me to find that it is not a local institution, at least not in recent history. Currently located at 1900 Market Street, I'm sure I am not the only person to walk by it on a semi-regular basis with out taking much notice of it. When we think of stock exchanges, most of us think of New York, but operating five blocks from Occupy Philly is the establishment where all of this greed started.
It was in 1790, that some very crafty, wealthy business owners gathered in tea rooms and taverns discussing the fundamentals of trade. These ideas eventually founded the United States's first stock exchange, in Philadelphia. Unsurprisingly, the founding of the stock exchange drew criticism from many notable figures of the era including founding fathers such as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison who were wealthy farm land owners of the time. Imagine that, wealthy men who gained their wealth through the direction of hard labor and actual skill-based careers, being upset by the ideas of stocks and speculation and intangible money markets. The dialogue of "Main Street versus Wall Street" extends back into history, all the way to the beginning.
It's hard to imagine Philadelphia as being the money center of the continent, but at one point this institution was where the 1% made money on investments in industrialization of America, the war debts of the Civil War, construction of transportation infrastructure, and other avenues of profiteering. At some time around the turn of the century, business moved out into the suburbs and Philadelphia's financial district sunk. The current Philadelphia Stock Exchange appears from the outside to be much less of a foe compared to its constituents up in Wall Street, but it would be dangerous to ignore. It was recently in 2008 bought by a New York company you may know called NASDAQ OMX Group, inc which owns NASDAQ, the second-largest stock exchange by market capitalization in the world, second only to the New York Stock Exchange.
In some circles the Philadelphia Stock Exchange is considered a "sixth-borough" institution, considering its CEO, Eric W. Noll, has commuted from Manhattan for over a decade. Even if the Philadelphia Stock Exchange is not much unlike most corporations that exist within city limits, and only represents a small satellite of the much larger institution, it is still a part of the problem that led us down this road. Also, does it not strike you as odd that we as Philadelphians don't even own our own historic stock exchange anymore?
When we first started this movement in Philadelphia it seemed like we didn't know where to protest first, since corporations left this city a long time ago. Well, now it would appear we have some where to go. Wall Street has quietly snuck in and Occupied an institution within our city limits. When are we going to Occupy and take it back?
For further reading,
The Philadelphia Stock Exchange and The City it Made by Domenic Vitiello and George E. Thomas. A short book about the history of America's first stock exchange and the various faces it has taken as well as how it has shaped this city through out its history. It is available here: http://www.upenn.edu/pennpress/book/14756.html
Book Review: The Philly Stock Exchange, and the City it Left Unfinished by Thomas J. Walsh from Plan Philly. Read here: http://planphilly.com/book-review-philly-stock-exchange-and-city-it-left-unfinished
Short history and specifics about the Philadelphia Stock Exchange according to Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philadelphia_Stock_Exchange