Wall Street Bull

The Wall Street Bull is one of the most famous works of art in all of New York City. But it's more than a sculpture; it's a symbol of the financial industry, a symbol of power and monetary wealth. Officially called Charging Bull, the bronze sculpture was created by Arturo Di Modica, an Italian artist. The bull currently resides in Bowling Green Park, located in Manhattan's Financial District.

Larger than an actual bull, this sculpture weighs in at 7,100 pounds and stands 11 feet tall. The bull is leaning back, with its head down, in a position looking like it could charge at any moment. Throughout the day, you'll find bankers mingling with tourists; the Charging Bull is a popular meeting place.

Merrill Lynch Bull Statue
Merrill Lynch Bull Statue

You might think that one of the big banks or even the New York Stock Exchange commissioned the sculpture, but that's not the case. Di Modica placed the bull in front of the stock exchange on his own, spending more than $360,000 of his own money on the project. He wanted a project that would encourage the American people after the massive stock market crash in 1987. Trucking in the sculpture to Manhattan, he installed the Charging Bull underneath a Christmas tree right in the middle of Broad Street in December 1989.

The crowds were thrilled, but the authorities were not very excited about this piece of guerrilla art. After the police took the massive sculpture into custody, New Yorkers were up in arms about losing their new favorite piece of art. A few weeks later, the city's Department of Parks and Recreation had the Charging Bull installed in Bowling Green Park, which was named for the game once played on its lawn.

Di Modica had a vision for the Charging Bull as one five sculptures to place around the world. Currently, two others have been completed. One stands in Shanghai, called Bund Bull, and a similar statue can be found in Amsterdam. Di Modica put the Wall Street Bull up for sale in 2004, requiring that it stays put, no matter who was the buy. During the Occupy Wall Street protests in 2011 and beyond, the sculpture was under police guard. Today, it's accessible again and is the starting point for many tours. 

The bull's New York home has an interesting story behind it as well. This park at the end of Broadway is the oldest park for public use in the entire city. It's next to the place where the fort of New Amsterdam once stood. The Dutch built the fort at the southern tip of the island in the 1620s, and the park followed in 1733. Fort New Amsterdam's land is now occupied by the National Museum of the American Indian George Gustav Heye Center, which offers tours and regular film screenings. Both are adjacent to the 25-acre Battery Park, which faces New York Harbor. During the early days of New Amsterdam, the artillery stood guard to keep the colony safe. Four centuries later, you could spend hours diving into this little corner of Manhattan and its fascinating history.

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