It has been the Wall Street staple that tourists from around the world have flocked to for photo ops for over two decades and this past Monday, the Charging Bull was set free from its cage for a short ceremony commemorating its 22nd anniversary.

The NYPD took down the barricades that have encaged the bull since the beginning of Zuccotti Park’s Occupy Wall Street demonstrations. For one hour, the city celebrated the belated anniversary of the bull’s arrival to New York City back on Dec. 20, 1989. The barricades were back in place by noon.

This unleashing came as a result of months of disputes between Occupy Wall Street’s protesters and the city’s cops, who were afraid OWS activists would vandalize the sculpture in their fervor.

Photo by chirastar via Flickr

For Arthur Piccolo, Chairman of the Bowling Green Association, this was a small victory on the occupiers’ part. For the past 4 months, he has been actively working to free the bull from its metal enclosure.

Piccolo pointed out that, aside from being an “unfriendly gesture” on the police’s part, the barricades have posed a safety threat to tourists who were forced to stand in the street in order to snap photos of the sculpture.

“The idea that the police department might do anything that might endanger people in the streets boggles my mind,” Piccolo said. “There’s security, and then there’s crazy security.”

The Italian flag-raising ceremony honored Arturo Di Modica’s iconic bronze statue. A placing of flowers at the marker honoring the first Italian New Yorker who arrived here at Bowling Green on June 2, 1635, Pietro Alberti, followed the gathering.

The work depicts a bull—leaning back on its haunches with its head lowered, ready to charge—serving as a symbol of a prosperous financial market, as well as a celebration of the Italian American heritage. Over time, the Charging Bull has become an unofficial symbol of the Financial District itself.

Deeming it a symbol of the “strength and power of the American people,” Di Modica designed and made the statue as a gift to the people of New York City, to bring back optimism after the 1987 stock market crash.

Initially placed under a Christmas tree by the New York Stock Exchange, the bull was later moved to a warehouse, as it lacked a city permit. Amid public outcry, the bull was finally moved to the center of Broadway near Wall Street, two blocks south of the Stock Exchange, where it now resides.

Piccolo cited several sources working with the city, stating that the removal of the barricades surrounding the Wall Street bull this coming weekend will be a permanent one.

“If the barricades don’t come down, the controversy’s going to continue,” he said, adding that the barricades are “destroying the appeal of one of the greatest attractions of this city.”

—Charissa Che