Recent events on the stock market may make this a bad time to reveal that it was a man from Derby who built the home of the New York Stock Exchange. Stephen Whitney was once considered the second richest man in New York City after the more famous John Jacob Astor. He was born in Derby on September 4, 1776 the seventh of eight children of Henry and Eunice Whitney and lived here until he was about eighteen years old.
He started to accumulate his fortune by importing wine and spirits, eventually became involved with cotton and made so much money that he retired from trade and went into investing. He made a fortune in shipping, real estate, railways and canals and banking. He married Harriet Suydam, the sister of his brother's wife, in 1803,when he was 26 years old.
One of his projects was the building of the Merchants' Exchange Building in New York City which became the first permanent home of the New York Stock Exchange. He also helped rebuild the city after the tragic fire of 1835 (which also destroyed the Merchant's Exchange Building.) and start New York University. He died in New York on February 16, 1860 at the age of 83.
On November 10, 1847 the passenger ship Stephen Whitney was lost off the southern coast of Ireland with the loss of 92 lives. The ship was part of the Red Star Line in which Whitney invested.
His living room from his home at 7 Bowling Green is on permanent display in the Museum of New York City. Click here to check out a chapel built in Green-Wood Cemetery in New York - and an interesting story about his supposed last act before dying!