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Considered as the oldest stock exchange building in the United States, the Merchant?s Exchange Building was built for the business aristocrats to have a place where they can convene and trade their merchandises. While the country?s economy was flourishing, a group of Philadelphia aristocracy and business entrepreneurs led by Stephen Girard, the nation?s wealthiest man at that time, assembled together to decide on building an ?exchange? as the need for one arises.

Between 1832 and 1834, the Merchant?s Exchange Building was constructed just within view of Girard?s New Bank, on an odd-shaped lot along Third Street in Philadelphia. The peculiarity of the location led to the creation of a semi-circular entryway, following the flow of the small river that was once on the boundary of the lot, but the structure is mostly rectangular. The building is of a Greek revival design, the most famous and first national American architectural style. In front, the structure is decorated with six august Corinthian style columns, which stand upon the second level of a basement supported by four stout columns, and tall windows that let natural light in and provide for a great view of the river that was once there. Found on both sides of the ?exchange? are the stairs, with sculptures of lion at the top end, that proceed up to tall entry doors of the edifice. On top of the structure is a tower, inspired by the Choragic Monument of Lysicrates in Athens, that was used as a watch tower by the members of the Exchange for them to view ships going up and down the Delaware River. The idea on the design of the tower popped up when in 1831, a local newspaper wrote "Philadelphia is truly the Athens of America." The interior of the building, specially the curved section, is adorned with mosaic floor, domed ceiling and fresco paintings by Nicola Monachesi on the walls and ceiling.

After being active for about 40 years, the Merchant?s Exchange Building was dissolved in 1866 when the financial district of Philadelphia moved towards Broad Street at the western part of the city. Eventually, Broad Street became the city?s new financial and political center leaving the Exchange that was leased for offices and letting it fell into poor condition. However, the Independence National Historic Park bought and rescued the monumental building and restored it in 1952. Today, the visitors of the Merchant?s Exchange Building can enjoy the small exhibition held here and the exterior design makes for an outstanding photo background.
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