Charging Bull: The Bronze Icon of Wall Street

The Charging Bull, sometimes referred to as the Wall Street Bull, is a three-and-a-half-ton bronze sculpture from artist Arturo Di Modica that sits proudly in New York City's financial district. The bull symbolizes "the power of the American people" and represents the spirit of New York, where anyone can come, work hard, and succeed.

Key Takeaways

  • The Charging Bull is a three-and-a-half-ton bronze sculpture from artist Arturo Di Modica that sits in New York City's financial district.
  • The sculpture was not commissioned but created and placed as an artistic stunt in 1989. It was eventually removed but found a permanent home in Bowling Green.
  • The sculpture has become an iconic symbol of Wall Street and New York City and is a heavily trafficked tourist spot.

The Charging Bull

The sculpture was neither commissioned nor approved. Di Modica sculpted this now-famous piece between 1987 and 1989, then enlisted friends to covertly place his gift in front of the New York Stock Exchange in the early morning hours of Dec. 15, 1989.

The choice of a charging bull is no accident. The bull is a symbol of a strong stock market in which participants are optimistic and confident. The theory is that euphoric investor psychology causes investors to buy more and more, driving the market higher. 

Although the sculpture's arrival on that December day was a surprise, one that was apparently well-liked by many who passed by it, the NYSE was not as enamored by its appearance and had it removed at the end of the day; however, then-New York City Parks Commissioner Henry Stern, Mayor Ed Koch, and leaders of the Bowling Green Association arranged for a permanent home for the sculpture near the north end of triangle-shaped Bowling Green, close to the intersection of Broadway and Morris Street.

A Charging Bull, a Girl, and a Pug

This icon is not only an amazing sight to behold. Many onlookers—from tourists to brokers to traders—believe that the 16-foot-long sculpture brings luck, prosperity, and a good financial day, but on one condition: you have to rub the bull in the rear on his testicles, famously known as the "Bulls Balls." 

In 2017, the bull was again involved in a controversy when State Street Global Advisors installed a bronze statue of its own to commemorate International Women's Day, a life-size young girl staring down the bull.

Created by artist Kristen Visbal, Fearless Girl is meant to promote women. An inscription that accompanied the statue read, "Know the power of women in leadership. SHE makes a difference," which many saw as an advertisement for State Street's Gender Diversity Index ETF, which goes by the ticker (SHE).

Not to be outdone, a few months later, New York artist Alex Gardega added his own element to the bronze composition—a small bronze pug urinating on the leg of the Fearless Girl. Known as the Pissing Pug, the sculpture was widely panned on social media and the artist removed it just a few hours after he placed it. Fearless Girl was meant to be a temporary installation, but in 2018 New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio gave the statue a new home in front of the NYSE.

What Does the Charging Bull Represent?

The bull in finance represents optimism and growth. The statute on Wall Street represents the same ideas; those of financial growth and prosperity associated with America, Wall Street, and New York City.

Did They Move the Charging Bull?

The Charging Bull sculpture has not been moved from its home in Bowling Green, despite some efforts to move it in front of the New York Stock Exchange. The Bull was first placed in front of the New York Stock Exchange as a guerrilla art stunt in 1989 and was removed. It found a permanent home in Bowling Green near the NYSE.

Has Fearless Girl Been Removed?

The Fearless Girl statue has been removed from its original location in front of the Wall Street Charging Bull. It now sits in front of the New York Stock Exchange.

The Bottom Line

The Charging Bull sculpture has become an icon of Wall Street and New York City. It is a heavily visited tourist attraction and represents the power of America and the city's prosperity. If you find yourself in New York City, it may be worth making a visit to see the iconic sculpture.

Article Sources
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  1. Artnet News. "Italian Sculptor Arturo Di Modica, Whose Charging Bull Sculpture Became a Symbol of an Unbridled Wall Street, Has Died at 80."

  2. Workspace. "Charging Bull: The Story of the Wall Street Bull."

  3. NY Facts. "Charging Bull."

  4. State Street Global Advisors. "Fearless Girl."

  5. Fearless Girl. "About the Artist."

  6. State Street Global Advisors. "SPDR SSGA Gender Diversity Index ETF."

  7. Marketwatch. "Exclusive: Artist Removes Statute of Pug Peeing on Fearless Girl Because Spectators Hate It."

  8. The Official Website of the City of New York. "Mayor de Blasio Announces New Home for 'Fearless Girl' Statue."

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