On May 17, 1792, twenty-four men signed a document they called “The Buttonwood Agreement”. In the agreement they agreed to trade securities only amongst themselves, to maintain fixed commission rates, and to avoid other auctions. The Buttonwood Agreement turned trading into a member’s only activity. The Buttonwood Agreement signers are considered to be the original members of the New York Stock Exchange. Trading took place outside, under the tree, until the Tontine Coffee House was completed the following year in 1793. The Tontine Coffee House was located at the northwest corner of Wall and William Streets.
The Buttonwood tree stood outside at about 68 Wall Street today. The tree stood on Wall Street until June 14, 1865 when it fell over during a storm. The news was treated like the death of a family member, and it was was widely reported in all the local media.