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February 8, 2019

History Lesson: A Deeper Look at Charging Bull

 

 

Just steps from the Wagner Battery Park stands one of the most iconic and recognizable sculptures of the Financial District: Charging Bull. This arresting bronze sculpture, featured heavily in popular films and documentaries, celebrates its 30th anniversary this year. Unofficially erected in 1989, Charging Bull (also known as the Bowling Street Bull or Wall Street Bull) has evolved into one of the most powerful symbols of the city.

Italian artist Arturo di Modica first conceptualized the sculpture following the stock market crash of 1987. In response to the economic anxiety caused by the crash, Charging Bull was designed to reinvigorate the community’s belief in Wall Street. With help from the Bedi-Makky Art Foundry in Brooklyn, Modica first installed Charging Bull in front of the stock exchange without permission from the city. What began as an example of guerilla art soon became a beloved, international symbol of the city’s financial prowess. With its glistening body, flaring nostrils and an attack ready stance, it’s easy to understand how this sculpture grew to be a favorite amongst tourists and locals alike.

  
The day before International Women’s Day in March of 2017, another bronze sculpture was erected directly in front of Charging Bull: Fearless Girl. Created by artist Kristen Visbal, Fearless Girl was commissioned by a financial institution to promote an index fund that represented gender diverse companies and encouraged larger organizations to incorporate more women onto their Board of Directors. But because of the girl’s defiant stance, many saw the juxtaposition of Fearless Girl and Charging Bull to be a direct commentary on the country’s wider gender imbalance. Though Fearless Girl was removed just 11 months after it was installed, visitors can still see the plaque left in its honor.

Whether you’re visiting the sculpture because of its social commentary or cultural significance, Charging Bull in person is as vibrant and mighty as ever. Standing at 11 feet tall and weighing in over 7,000 pounds, the sculpture reminds us of the impressive impact New York and its financial center continues to have on the greater world.