New York’s oldest public park is purportedly the spot where Dutch settler Peter Minuit paid Native Americans the equivalent of $24 to purchase Manhattan Island. At its northern edge stands Arturo Di Modica's 7000lb bronze Charging Bull, placed here permanently after it mysteriously appeared in front of the New York Stock Exchange in 1989, two years after a market crash.
Attention and controversy returned to the park in 2017, when a financial firm installed Kristen Visbal's Fearless Girl, a statue of a young girl with arms akimbo posed as if in defiant opposition to the bull. Some cheered it as a potent symbol of feminism or anticapitalism (the latter a particularly ironic take, considering it was commissioned to advertise an index fund featuring companies with women in leadership positions). Di Modica, however, decried it as a warping and misreading of his artwork and called for Fearless Girl's immediate removal. After much public wrangling and negotiation, she was relocated a few blocks away, directly facing the New York Stock Exchange building.
The small, tree-fringed plot was leased by the people of New York from the English crown beginning in 1733, for the token amount of one peppercorn each. But an angry mob, inspired by George Washington’s nearby reading of the Declaration of Independence, descended upon the site in 1776 and tore down a large statue of King George III; a large fountain now stands in its place.