This part of the exchange is home to NYSE members called "floor brokers" who interact with designated market markers. Each of the companies that lists their shares on the exchange is assigned to a designated market maker, who usually handles more than one company's shares. The market makers punch trades into computers, taking orders from floor brokers who are aided by handheld computers and their "clerks" who man banks of phones linked to the outside world. Many floor brokers are stationed in wooden booths more suited for a boardwalk arcade than the NYSE.
"When we are finished with phase one, brokers will have a place to sit, access to multiple screens, in line with any upstairs trading room," said Lou Pastina, director of floor operations for the NYSE.
At present, the core area undergoing renovation is cordoned off by a brown painted wall that runs the length of the main room. "Mr. Pastina, tear down this wall!" a nearby trader quipped, referencing the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall being shown on television.
ABCNews.com was given a brief peak beyond the wall – basically, it was one huge empty space with some tarps (not quite as vast as the ones thrown across the investment banking industry, but sizable).
Interest from floor brokers in the new space, once it is ready, is robust. Several firms, such as Barclays, are moving in, expanding their presence on the floor. "We're fully booked up for the new section," Pastina said.
Pellecchia insists that, despite the trend toward electronic trading, the traders and brokers on the floor of the NYSE saw more market share in the past year, especially during turbulent, high-volume periods, stressful sessions when buyers and sellers move large quantities. And there has been more activity in the past two months.
"The renovation project builds on that momentum," Pellecchia said.