Photos: After 167 years, Chicago Mercantile Exchange closes futures trading pits
On Monday, most of the futures trading pits in Chicago and New York—where traders flashed hand signals lightning quick to buy and sell commodities like cattle, corn, gold, and, of course, pork bellies—will shut their doors, bringing the venues’ 167-year history to a close.
The pits, which were made famous in the movie Trading Places, thrived for decades on a schoolyard atmosphere of bold bets, ruthless competition, close camaraderie, and professional opportunity—no matter a person’s upbringing or past. In announcing the closures in February, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange Group, the owner of the exchanges, said that open outcry futures trading had fallen to just 1% of the company’s total futures volume. The practice has lost out to a faster, cheaper, and quieter competitor: the computer.
S&P 500 futures and options on futures pits, which have managed to thwart electronic competition, will remain open.
Here’s a brief look at the pits’ storied history, which stretches back to the start of futures trading at the Chicago Board of Trade in 1848.
Photograph by Chicago History Museum/Getty Images
Courtesy of the Library of Congress
Photograph by Steven L. Raymer — National Geographic/Getty Images
Photograph by Michael L. Abramson — The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images
Photograph by Scott Olson — Getty Images
Photograph by John Gress — Reuters
Photograph by Jim Young — Reuters
For more Fortune photography follow us on Instagram at @fortunemag.