Charging Bull

Sculptor: Arturo Di Modica
Date: 1989
Medium & size: Bronze (16 feet long)
Location: North end of Bowling Green, Broadway near Beaver St.
Subway: 1, 4, or 5 to Bowling Green

ChargingBull

 

Bulls & Bears

When did bulls and bears begin rampaging through financial markets? The earliest example found by the etymologically omniscient compilers of the Oxford English Dictionary is 1714. The amount of explanation in this 1860 piece from Harper's Weekly suggests that to the American public, "bulls and bears" was still an unfamiliar phrase:

People who live far from Wall Street attach a mysterious and sometimes an awful signification to the terms "bulls" and "bears," which figure in the reports of the doings in that naughty place - the Stock Exchange. It is only the knowing ones who understand that both are speculators, often gamblers; the bulls buyers of stocks in the hope they will rise, and the bears sellers for future delivery, hoping that they will fall. Both of course "talk the market" to suit their operations. A bull sees every thing prosperous around him, and serene in the future; to a bear the future is pregnant with gloom, and trouble, and ruin. ... The world is, in fact, full of bulls and bears; we are all of us either one or the other. (Harper's Weekly 9/8/1860)

The earliest American illustration of bulls and bears is this charming cartoon published by Harper's in 1864. Refering to one of the stock market's roller-coaster descents, the caption reads, "The Battle of the Bulls and Bears. Humpty Dumpty on a wall, Humpty Dumpty got a fall?"

BullsBearsCartoon1864

Further Reading

  • On Charging Bull, see  New York Times articles of 12/16/1989, 12/20/1989, 10/3/1993. New York Post article of 11/24/2003. 
  • Outdoor Monuments of Manhattan includes more discussion of symbolic sculptures.

Copyright (c) 2013 Dianne L. Durante