|[This series was shot in the Wall Street Bull area]|
December 3, 2012
Charging Bull, which is sometimes referred to as the Wall Street Bull or the Bowling Green Bull, is a 3,200-kilogram (7,100 lb) bronze sculpture by Arturo Di Modica that stands in Bowling Green Park near Wall Street in Manhattan, New York City. Standing 11 feet (3.4 m) tall and measuring 16 feet (4.9 m) long, the oversize sculpture depicts a bull, the symbol of aggressive financial optimism and prosperity, leaning back on its haunches and with its head lowered as if ready to charge. The sculpture is both a popular tourist destination which draws thousands of people a day, as well as "one of the most iconic images of New York" and a "Wall Street icon" symbolizing "Wall Street" and the Financial District.
As soon as the sculpture was set up at Bowling Green, it became "an instant hit". One of the city's most photographed artworks, it has become a tourist destination in the Financial District. "Its popularity is beyond doubt", a New York Times article said of the artwork. "Visitors constantly pose for pictures around it." Adrian Benepe, the New York City parks commissioner, said in 2004, "It's become one of the most visited, most photographed and perhaps most loved and recognized statues in the city of New York. I would say it's right up there with the Statue of Liberty." In 1993, Arthur J. Piccolo, chairman of the Bowling Green Association, made the same point with the same comparison. Henry J. Stern, the city parks commissioner when the statue first appeared in the Financial District, said in 1993: "People are crazy about the bull. It captured their imagination."
The statue's popularity with tourists has a very international appeal. One 2007 newspaper report noted a "ceaseless stream" of visitors from India, the United Kingdom, South Africa, Venezuela and China, as well as the United States. Children enjoy climbing on the bull, which sits "famously" at street level on the cobblestones at the far northern tip of the small park. One popular tourist guidebook assumes that a visitor will want to get his or her picture taken with the statue ("after you pose with the bull [...]"). A popular Bollywood movie, Kal Ho Naa Ho features the bull in a musical number, increasing its familiarity with Indians. One visitor told a newspaper reporter it was a reason for his visit.
In addition to having their pictures taken at the front end of the bull, many tourists pose at the back of the bull, near the large testicles "for snapshots under an unmistakable symbol of its virility." According to a Washington Post article in 2002, "People on The Street say you've got to rub the nose, horns and testicles of the bull for good luck, tour guide Wayne McLeod would tell the group on the Baltimore bus, who would giddily oblige." According to a 2004 New York Times article, "Passers-by have rubbed — to a bright gleam — its nose, horns and a part of its anatomy that, as Mr. Benepe put it gingerly, 'separates the bull from the steer.'"
A poster showing a ballerina on the Charging Bull to promote the Occupy Wall Street movement.
A 2007 newspaper account agreed that a "peculiar ritual" of handling the "shining orbs" of the statue's scrotum seems to have developed into a tradition. One visitor, from Mississippi, told the Tribeca Trib she did it "for good luck", and because "there’s a kind of primal response when you see something like that. You just have to engage it." The enthusiastic reaction to the sculpture continues into the darker hours. "I’ve seen people do some crazy things to that bull," said a souvenir vendor, "At night sometimes, when people have been drinking, I’ve seen them do stuff to that bull that you couldn’t print in a newspaper."
Following the 2011 Occupy Wall Street protests, the sculpture was placed under police guard and is generally off-limits to tourists. [Wiki]