Maybe no event in American history was as dramatic as the attacks of September 11, 2001. When the attack on Pearl Harbor happened, we had live radio broadcasts bringing updates, and the next days newspaper how photographs of the carnage, but with 9/11, we had live, crystal clear television pictures beamed right into our living rooms. While we still take pause to think of that horrendous day, the world’s financial markets took a hit like they never have before as the ripple effect from Ground Zero was felt all around the world.
When the attacks happened, and because of how close the World Trade Centers were located to Wall Street, trading wasn’t even started. Everyone that had shown up to work that day was told to stay inside until it was safe. Many people inside the exchange reported feeling the ground shake as the two towers collapsed, and the exchange became a refuge for those fleeing the giant cloud of dust, smoke and debris that appeared once the towers fell.
The buildings that hold the New York Stock Exchange were not damaged during the attacks, but a major telephone bunker than held the phone system for the entire area located near the World Trade Center was severely damaged, hence making communication on the floor of the exchange impossible.
The stock market remained closed until September 17. It would turn out to be the longest that the market would remain closed since 1933 and the Great Depression. During it’s first day of trading after the attacks, the market lost over 680 points, the single biggest one day drop in the exchanges history. While the drop only accounted for a little over 7 percent, it is still considered a major event. By the end of that first week back open, the Dow Jones had lost over 1360 points or 14 percent of its value. It would go down as the worst week in market history. The total money losses during that time were estimated to be around 1.2 trillion.
The events of September 11 led to a dramatic increase in security around the exchange, as many feel it could be a target in future attacks.
The events of 9/11 will live on in the minds of everyone who lived through it. For those who had shown up for a day at work on Wall Street, the event is difficult to forget. The NYSE came through it stronger and so did the nation.