The Charging Bull

The Charging Bull

The Charging Bull


If you find yourself near Bowling Green Park in Lower Manhattan, you can't miss the Charging Bull statue. This is not just because he stands over 11 feet tall and weighs 7,100 pounds but also because of the enormous crowds visiting him. At any given time, hundreds of people line up for the good luck he is said to provide.

But how did he get there? Why was he made? The story of the Wall Street Bull is as compelling as the bull itself.


The artist behind this iconic sculpture is Arturo Di Modica. Born in Sicily in 1941, he began sculpting as a teenager after spending his childhood hanging out with the local artisans in their workshops. His father did not approve of him becoming an artist, so at the age of 18, he ran away from home and took a train to Florence to pursue a career in sculpting all on his own.

Upon arriving in Florence, he enrolled in the Accademia di Belle Arti di Firenze where he attended courses for a few years. He was often unable to afford the use of local foundries, so he built his own forging and metalworking tools. He also salvaged materials and cast bronzes in his home-built foundry.

Di Modica's first major show was in 1968. It was a collection of rough abstract bronze castings held at Villa Medici. In the late 1960s he began working with Carrara marble in the town of Pietrasanta. It was here that he met sculptor Henry Moore, who would eventually have a strong influence on the young artist. He nicknamed Di Modica the young Michelangelo for his work with the marble. Under Moore's mentorship, he developed a new, singular style.


In the 1970s, he moved to New York City and opened a studio on Grand Street in SoHo. He fit right in with the emerging bohemian art scene. He was known for leaving large-scale marble works on the street outside his studio.

The artist held an exhibition in Battery Park in 1977. Art critic Hilton Kramer declined to attend the show, and it went virtually unnoticed. This prompted Di Modica to illegally drop eight enormous abstract marble sculptures outside Rockefeller Center, blocking Fifth Avenue and attracting the attention of the NYPD.

As multiple police officers surrounded Di Modica with guns drawn, he merely pushed the weapons aside and handed them a flier for the exhibit. The uproar attracted the attention of Mayor Abe Beame, who arrived on the scene and, after issuing a $25 fine, granted this young artist permission to temporarily leave the sculptures on exhibit. The stunt made the front page of the New York Post. All eight sculptures sold.


On October 19, 1987, the U.S. financial markets crashed in what is now referred to as Black Monday. It was an unexpected and devastating moment that ushered in an extended economic crisis. Worldwide losses were estimated at $1.71 trillion. Fears of another Great Depression rippled throughout the country.

Di Modica felt a deep connection to the country's current situation. He has spoken about his feelings of being indebted to the U.S. for welcoming him and enabling his success. So, he wanted to give back.

This is where the Charging Bull was conceived. He spent the next two years creating his enormous bull, symbolizing the bull market, where the country needed things to turn to. It was created in his Crosby Street studio and then cast at the Bedi-Makky Art Foundry in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Costing $360,000 of his own money, this was an extensive undertaking.

Taking inspiration from his earlier guerrilla art exhibitions, he decided to present his bull in a unique manner. After spending several nights watching the police patrols on Wall Street, looking for a window of opportunity, he finally snuck in his bull just before dawn on December 15, 1989.

When he arrived with the sculpture, he was surprised to find the annual Christmas tree had been installed that day right in the spot where he wanted to leave it. With only a few minutes to spare between police patrols, he decided to leave the bull under the 40-foot tree. It would be an early Christmas gift from the artist to the city he loved.

The next day, Wall Street financiers were shocked to find the giant sculpture in front of their place of work. Word spread and thousands of people gathered to see the bull. But the heads of the exchange were not impressed with the unpermitted guerilla art display and had the bull arrested and brought to an impound lot in Queens where it was going to be melted down. But there was such an outcry from the public that they released him just in time for Christmas and placed him at the northern tip of Bowling Green Park on Broadway on December 20.

He has remained there since that day and continues to serve as a symbol of strength and determination. As the country finally entered a bull market, Di Modica's Charging Bull charged forth. He has said of his work, "My point was to show people that if you want to do something in a moment things are very bad, you can do it. You can do it by yourself. My point was that you must be strong."

A visit to NYC is not complete without a moment with this bull. On the 5 Neighborhoods Walking Tour with Metropolis Tours, you'll get the chance to get up close and personal with the bull. And receive some of that good luck by rubbing his nose, horns, or private regions. Thousands have, which is why they are so well-polished.

Book the tour right here. We 're excited to bring you to this icon of the Financial District.

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