Rush hour was darker and quieter than usual, as the effects of Hurricane Sandy continued to haunt lower Manhattan. It had been weeks since the storm, but many of the buildings and storefronts in the financial district remained closed. Power generators hummed from inside trailers in the streets, a poor substitute for the bustle of the crowds that normally would fill these blocks as the work day gave way to cocktail hour.
Inside the Museum of American Finance at 48 Wall Street, an event that had been postponed because of the storm finally got to take place. The rescheduled gathering was either intimate or modestly attended, depending on your perspective. The occasion: a commemoration of the 250th anniversary of the founding of Barings Bank, and the opening of an exhibit chronicling the bank's history-from its illustrious years as a seat of power in Europe to its role financing important American developments (it bankrolled the Louisiana Purchase in 1803) to the firm's shocking downfall in 1995 at the hands of a rogue trader in Singapore named Nick Leeson.