So last weekend Kongo checked out the area around Wall street in lower Manhattan. It had been a few years and Kongo wanted to see if anything changed. It hadn’t. It was pretty quiet and all the “Occupy” activists are long gone. It was just the monkey and a flock of other tourists taking pictures. Above Alexander Hamilton poses in front of the Federal Building on Wall Street. Kongo always found Alexander an interesting historical character. The monkey doubts that few of the many tourists who climb up on the platform for a group shot recall that Hamilton was the first Treasurer of the United States and put in place the monetary systems that eventually gave rise to Wall Street and the dominance that the United States enjoys in today’s financial markets. Hamilton also managed to get himself shot and killed in a duel and what is even more interesting about this duel is that Aaron Burr, the man who killed him, was the SITTING VICE PRESIDENT of the United States. These guys hated each other like you can’t believe. When President Jefferson decided to dump Burr as a running mate for his second term, Burr ran for governor of New York. Hamilton wrote a scathing article about him in the New York papers, Burr demanded that his honor be preserved, so the two rowed across the Hudson to New Jersey where Burr shot and mortally wounded Hamilton. The duel took place in what is now Weehawken near where the Lincoln Tunnel entrance is on the Jersey side of the Hudson.
And we think that the feuding between Monkey Democrats and Republican Baboons is bad today? We’re pretty tame compared to the old days.
The image below is of Trinity Church looking up Wall Street between the buildings.
A block east of Broad Street is Broadway that if you follow it long enough will eventually take you to Times Square and naked cowboys, crazy people, and the Theater District. At the lower end of Broadway is the famous Bull of Wall Street.
Everyone likes to get their photo snapped in front of the Bull. It’s an impressive animal, no doubt about it. There’s almost always a line to get your photo taken at the front of the Bull but the sides are generally open. Interestingly, there is often a line of people waiting to get their picture taken at the BACK OF THE BULL. Yup. Imagine all the Facebook pages with, “Hey, here I am looking for bull***t in NYC.” A few bolder explorers actually go UNDERNEATH the bull to check out the rather anatomically correct parts. Since it’s bronze (all 7,200 pounds of it) you can tell what parts the tourists like because they’re shiny! 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.’
Now the bull has a bit of an interesting story too in this town filled with interesting stories. The bull is technically titled “Charging Bull” and was conceived, cast, and donated by Artist Arturo Di Modica. Shortly after the 1987 stock market crash (Kongo was at sea in the Persian Gulf at the time…) Di Modica dropped the bull off in front of the NYSE as a Christmas gift to the American people. This wasn’t a city project. It was more like Gorilla Art (Kongo generally likes gorilla art) project and the poor bull was confiscated by NYC’s finest and corralled in an impound lot.
Well, you can image the hue and cry when that happened. What with the market crash, increasing tensions in the Persian Gulf, good Americans weren’t going to put up with any of that BS. They wanted their bull back! The city quickly retreated and placed the bull in the Bowling Green Plaza where it faces uptown on Broadway. It remains there today. Technically, the bull is still owned by the artist and its placement is temporary. But since it’s been there for almost 30-years it’s starting to look pretty permanent.
Check out the bull the next time you visit the Big Apple. Give it a nice rub.
Travel safe. Have fun.