This is the real story of how “Charging Bull” arrived at Bowling Green and the pivotal role played by former Commissioner (now Commissioner Emeritus) Henry Stern and by former Mayor Ed Koch. There are all types of fictitious stories told by tour guides and others, but none is as accurate as what you are about to read. The story is an edited version written by Arthur Piccolo, one of the men responsible for it location in Bowling Green Park in New York City.
Late at night on December 15, 1989, Arturo DiModica and some friends, pulled up to the front of the NYSE Christmas tree located on Broad Street in Lower Manhattan. Quickly and unnoticed, they placed the newly cast 3 ½ ton Bull under the NYSE Tree. By the following day it was the big story of the morning. It was a mystery – no one knew how it got there, or who was responsible. All day long media and crowds of onlookers surrounded the Bull in awe, with the exception of the NYSE officials, who just wanted it to be removed by the city! The NYSE took matters into their own hands and late in the afternoon they paid a private contractor to haul the Bull off, much to the disappointment of onlookers.
By the following day Saturday morning the NY Post had identified Arturo DiModica as the local Italian American sculptor responsible. The cover story of the bull was headlined “BAH HUMBUG… N.Y. Stock Exchange Grinches Can’t Bear Christmas-gift Bull.” It featured a large front page photo of the Bull being removed from the front of NYSE. It was at this point that Arthur Piccolo of the Bowling Green Association, read the article. He contacted Mr. DiModica to inform him he had a location to suggest for the bull, only a short distance from Wall Street, at Bowling Green Park. Later, Mr. DiModica and Mr. Piccolo met at the park and DiModica agreed to the location. It was then up to Piccolo to call his friend, Parks Commissioner Henry Stern to pitch the idea. In short order, both the Park’s Commissioner and NYC Mayor Koch approved of the movement of the bull to the park.
Then it was a matter of retrieving the “stolen” Bull. The New York Stock Exchange only agreed to release the Bull if the removal and storage fees were paid for. Arturo paid the bill and Commissioner Stern arranged for the delivery of the sculpture, now called “Charging Bull” to Bowling Green on the morning of December 20, 1989. Welcoming ceremonies were hosted by Commissioner Stern at noon before a huge cheering crowd.
“Charging Bull” became an immediate phenomenon drawing huge crowds day after day, year round. There were times that hundreds of people surrounded the bronze sculpture, each patiently waiting to take photos and rub the bull’s horns and nose. “Charging Bull” has become one of the most popular attractions in New York City and withstood the tragedy of 9/11 unfazed and unmoved.
December 20, 2017 marked the 28th anniversary of Charging Bull’s arrival at Bowling Green. It stands within yards of the location of one of the most infamous statues in American history – the statue of King George III on horseback. It was destroyed by New York colonists on the night of July 9, 1776, to celebrate the Declaration of Independence. Declared a park in 1733, Bowling Green the oldest public park in the U.S.
The artist who created “Charging Bull” – Arturo Di Modica was born in Vittoria, Sicily in 1941. He is a naturalized US citizen. The work cost $350,000 of the artist’s own money. He technically still owns the sculpture, with has been on loan to the NYC Park’s Commission for the past 28 years.