The Pittsburgh Stock Exchange, shown here at 229 Fourth Avenue in 1904, was a regional securities exchange that operated from 1894 until 1974. The exchange provided facilities for its members to execute transactions in securities (mainly local stocks and bonds) traded for either the members or their clients.
Several cities across the country had similar exchanges to facilitate the raising of capital needed for businesses in their region and to overcome communication issues that limited a client's ability to trade on the New York exchanges. Other regional stock markets were located in large cities such as Boston, Cincinnati, Detroit, and Philadelphia.
These regional exchanges reached a peak in activity around the time of the Stock Market Crash of 1929 and never rebounded to pre-crash levels. Even the custom of first listing a stock regionally before moving to the New York Stock Exchange fell out of favor after the 1920s as more of the country's financial business was centered in New York City.
The Pittsburgh Stock Exchange (PSE) had its origins in "Thurston's Oil Exchange," founded on November 11, 1864, with an office located on Fourth Avenue. The exchange was built on the oil traded at Pittsburgh during the Civil War. The name was changed to the Pittsburgh Coal Exchange on May 27, 1870, for coal companies engaged in river transportation.
After several oil exchanges were consolidated by Standard Oil, on July 21, 1878, the Pittsburgh Coal Exchange, with 180 members, changed its name to the Pittsburgh Oil Exchange. Finally, in April 1894, all general stocks and bonds were included and the business became popularly known as the Pittsburgh Stock Exchange, a change made official on July 25, 1896.
Originally located in the Union Trust Building (335 Fourth Avenue), a fire forced the Pittsburgh Stock Exchange to relocate a year later, in 1897. The headquarters then moved to the banking rooms of the Commercial National Bank at 315 Fourth Avenue, and in April 1901, the firm briefly moved to the Pittsburgh Bank for Savings Building at the corner of Smithfield and Fourth.
In the fall of 1902, the Pittsburgh Stock Exchange found a permanent home in the former Mechanics National Bank building at 229 Fourth Avenue (shown in the photo above). At this time the total number of exchange members was 130, up from the original fifty. By 1929 a total of 204 issues were traded on the Exchange, including several Fortune 500 companies.
After the Stock Market Crash of 1929 and the Great Depression, the volume and interest in the regional stock exchanges waned and activity never reached pre-crash numbers.
By March, 1961, there were fourteen securities exchanges in the United States that were registered nationally with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Besides the two major New York stock exchanges and smaller exchanges that dealt primarily in mining shares, the remaining seven regional exchanges included: Boston, Midwest, Philadelphia-Baltimore-Washington, Pacific Coast, Cincinnati, Detroit and Pittsburgh.
The Pittsburgh Stock Exchange, in 1959, handled only .08% the total dollar volume of the New York Stock Exchange. By 1964, the total dollar value of the stocks traded at the Pittsburgh Stock Exchange dropped to .06%, the lowest in the country.
In 1962, The exchange headquarters moved to the Harkins Building, or former Keystone Bank Building at 333 Fourth Avenue. Then, in 1969, the Pittsburgh Stock Exchange announced a merger with the Philadelphia-Baltimore-Washington Stock Exchange (PBW). As per the agreement, the PSE operated in Pittsburgh for five years and then moved all operations to the PBW in 1974.
At its height the exchange traded over 1,200 companies, but by the last trading day on August 23, 1974, only Pittsburgh Brewing Company, Williams & Company and Westinghouse remained listed and the company had been reduced to three employees.
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