Arturo Di Modica’s three-and-a-half-ton bronze sculpture "Charging Bull" sits proudly in New York City’s financial district, symbolizing “the power of the American people” and representing the spirit of New York where anyone can come, work hard and succeed—a spirit Di Modica fell in love with. But this was not a structure that was commissioned or even approved. Di Modica spent two years, 1987 to 1989, sculpting this now-famous piece. Then he 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 use 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 by the NYSE. 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 close by at the north end of triangle-shaped Bowling Green, near the intersection of Broadway and Morris Street.
A Charging Bull, a Girl and a Pug
This icon is not only an amazing site 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, with an inscription on the statue reading "Know the power of women in leadership. SHE makes a difference."
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 New York Mayor Bill de Blasio is pushing to make it a permanent counterpoint to "Charging Bull."