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Charging Bull: The Story of the Wall Street Bull

Workspace by Rockefeller Group_00077_2016-07-20_v01_Wall-Street-Bull.jpg

Original photo by Sebastian Alvarez is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Many people are familiar with the iconic Charging Bull statue in New York, but you may not know the interesting story behind the creation and display of this impressive art installation.

Although often referred to as the “Wall Street Bull” the actual name of the sculpture is Charging Bull. The piece being referred to as the “Wall Street Bull” may have come from the fact that its original display was in front of the New York Stock Exchange. It may also come from the association of the bull and the financial sector in general. The bull is a symbol of financial optimism and prosperity. A bull market is when prices are rising and is indicative of growth, as opposed to a “bear market” of declining prices and financial pessimism.

Iconic Piece of Guerilla Art

If you are unfamiliar with the history of the sculpture, you may assume that the city bought or commissioned the bull, but the piece actually started out as a guerilla art exhibit. Guerilla art is the practice of creating and displaying art pieces in public spaces – usually anonymously and without permission. The setting where the art is displayed is often a part of the message that the artist intends to convey.

Italian-born sculptor Arturo Di Modica decided to create the sculpture after the 1987 stock market crash. He wanted to present the city with a symbol of the “strength and power of the American people.” The sculpture was constructed in Di Modica’s studio in SoHo. The statue was created in several different pieces, which were then welded together, grinded, and polished. Altogether, Di Modica spent $360,000 to create and install the bull.

A Grand Symbol

The finished sculpture weighed in at 7,100 pounds, measuring 11 feet tall and 16 feet in length. In the early morning hours of December 15th, 1989, Di Modica and a few close friends unloaded the sculpture and placed it at the foot of a 60-foot Christmas Tree on Broad Street, which was on display in front of the New York Stock Exchange.

The NYSE paid independent contractors to move the statue to Queens during the evening of the same day that it appeared. Di Modica paid to have the bull relocated to Manhattan when he had secured a new place for it to rest. The “Wall Street Bull” found a permanent home at Bowling Green, a small park in the Financial District. Every day, thousands of people come to see the bull and get a picture next to one of NYC’s most iconic symbols of strength.

For information about the history of Wall Street, see our article here.

 

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