A Call to Move Wall Street Bull and 'Fearless Girl' for Crowd Safety

Tourist attention is now split between Fearless Girl, shown here, and Charging Bull, which stands about 20 feet away north of Bowling Green. Photo: Carl Glassman/Tribeca Trib

Apr. 17, 2017

From where she stands, Fearless Girl may have more to fear than she thinks.

The new statue, installed last month on a lower Broadway pedestrian plaza, defiantly faces the Wall Street icon Charging Bull, while sharing his picture-taking throngs. Crowding onto the narrowest, northern portion of the plaza above Bowling Green Park, the tourists are a mere feet from traffic rolling by on both sides.

That worries Jessica Lappin, president of the Downtown Alliance. “When it’s a really busy time there’s not enough space here to contain everybody,” she said Monday morning as an endless stream of visitors gathered around the now-famous bronze girl, many waiting their turn to mimic her hands-on-hips pose. “We have two pretty active roadbeds, one that’s mainly used by buses.”

The scene around Fearless Girl on lower Broadway. 360 Photo by Carl Glassman/Tribeca Trib (Click and drag your cursor to see the full 360-degree view.)

The scene around "Fearless Girl" on Lower Broadway in New York City. - Spherical Image - RICOH THETA


Metal barricades “that seem to move at whim,” as she put it, form a porous perimeter around the space that she said does a poor job of containing the visitors. “This one right here,” she said, pointing to a gap on the island’s eastern side. “You walk right in.”

In addition, Lappin cites even more dreaded security concerns. “There have been a number of incidents recently in cities around the world where a group of people have been the target of a popular tourist destination like this, and this is not a protected area.”

Fearless Girl, commissioned by State Street Global Advisors, was installed on March 7 in advance of International Women’s Day as a call for gender diversity on company boards. Charging Bull had landed on the plaza in 1989.

Much of the fuss over artist Kristen Visbal’s Fearless Girl has been centered around the objections by Charging Bull sculptor Arturo Di Modica, who claims that the girl turns his piece into a negative symbol. But Lappin points out that Mayor Bill de Blasio has made it clear that the girl will stay at least until next February. “If that’s the case I think the city should try to make it a little safer,” she said.

The spare and wider southern half of the plaza, occupied only by a flag pole and stand used for holiday events, Lappin insisted, could easily accommodate the bull and girl, which now stand about 20 feet apart.

“The bottom line is you have a pretty large space here and everything is pushed to the northernmost end—the narrowest piece—for no good reason.”

The question is, who makes the decision? The bull stands on city Parks Department property while Fearless Girl resides on a small cobblestone extension of the plaza, on pavement that belongs to the city Department of Transportation. At an event Tuesday morning attended by officials from the two agencies, both the Parks Manhattan Borough Commissioner William Castro and DOT Manhattan Borough Commissioner Luis Sanchez were asked about the proposal. Both noted unresolved jurisdictional divisions. But Sanchez said he favored the move.

“We’re supportive of moving it [to the south] because obviously it’s a bigger space, Sanchez said. "So the next step I guess is working out the details.”

Lappin said that in December she had written a letter to the Parks Department, asking for the bull to be moved, but did not receive an answer. With the addition of Fearless Girl, she said, Theres a more pressing need to do it now.

“It’s not complicated,” she added. “It’s not a big deal.”