DEFINITION of Charging Bull

The Charging Bull is a bronze sculpture by artist Arturo Di Modica that stands near Wall Street in Downtown Manhattan. The 7,100 lb charging bull, a forceful allegory of market optimism, has become the symbol of Wall Street and the Financial District and one of the most popular tourist attractions in New York City.

BREAKING DOWN 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 December of 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.

Charging Bull and the 1987 Market Crash

On October 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.

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.