What Is the Charging Bull?

The Charging Bull is the official title of the iconic bronze sculpture depicting a bull rearing its horns, created by artist Arturo Di Modica that is located at Bowling Green, near Wall Street in Downtown Manhattan. The 7,100 lb charging bull, a forceful allegory of "bullish" market optimism, has become the de facto symbol of Wall Street and the Financial District, and has become a popular tourist attraction in New York City.

Key Takeaways

  • The Charging Bull is the name of the bronze sculpture of the animal its title depicts, located at Bowling Green near Wall Street in Manhattan.
  • The bull was sculpted by artist Arturo Di Modica in the aftermath of the 1987 stock market crash, and publicly installed in 1989 at the end of Broadway and near Wall Street.
  • The 7,100-pound statue has become a tourist attraction and an iconic symbol of Wall Street itself.

History of the Charging Bull

Arturo Di Modica created the charging bull without the involvement of the city, funding the $360,000 project himself in the aftermath of the 1987 market crash. In Dec. 1989, he brought the charging bull to the city and installed it under the Christmas tree in front of the New York Stock Exchange, as a gift to New York. NYPD briefly impounded the sculpture, but after the public protested, the NYC Parks Department officially installed it in Bowling Green Park a week later.

The charging bull represents the courage and can-do spirit of Americans and New Yorkers in particular. In a melting pot of backgrounds and experiences, Arturo Di Modica installed the bull as an antidote to the causes of the 1987 Wall Street crash: privilege, greed, and excess. He believed the statue’s representation of resilience and courage was a model of integrity.

The artist spent more than two years sculpting the now world-famous Charging Bull at his studio in the Soho district of Manhattan (Crosby Street). The piece was so large and ambitious that Arturo had to cast it in separate bronze pieces and then weld and hand finish them. In its final state, it weighed over three and a half tons.

Other artists have made sculptural statements in the same location including the Fearless Girl statue, depicting a young girl standing defiant in front of the bull. It was installed in honor of International Women's Day in 2017.

The Wall Street bull
A bronze sculpture of a bull is displayed on Broadway in the financial district. Chris Hondros/Getty Images News

Charging Bull and the 1987 Market Crash

On Oct. 19, 1987, world markets went tumbled down, due to a combination of programming errors and international factors. While the real catalyst for the crash continues to elude analysts, complex interactions between international currencies and markets contributed. Overall, program traders shouldered the majority of the blame; following the brief meltdown several exchanges implemented circuit breaker rules, among other precautions, to slow the impact of such irregularities in the future.

As with other financial crisis scenarios (such as in 2008), some warning signs of excesses preceded the inflection point in 1987. Economic growth had begun to slow and inflation was rearing its head. A strong U.S. dollar was pressuring exports, and valuations were climbing to very high levels. While market participants were aware of these issues, many shrugged off the warning signs and continued to take aggressive risks.