Over 20 years ago, back when Rudy Giuliani was mayor, around 500 fiberglass cows—decorated by artists and schoolchildren—were deployed to various corners of the city as part of a public art project, called CowParade. Although some of them were defaced and others stolen, the surviving cows were ultimately auctioned off for charity, netting $1.35 million for six organizations (Oprah was a fan too, and purchased three of them). For the first time since then, the cows are back in town, with 78 fiberglass cows placed at eight locations around all five boroughs for the next couple of weeks.
The cows can be found at three locations in Manhattan (Hudson Yards, Bloomingdales at 59th Street, and Macy’s Herald Square); at Bronx Community College, Industry City in Brooklyn, New York Hall of Science in Queens, on The Boardwalk at Beach 108th Street in The Rockaways, and National Lighthouse Museum on Staten Island.
They’ll only be on display until September 30th, and throughout the month of September they’ll be auctioned off with all proceeds going to benefit the God’s Love We Deliver charity, which specializes in delivering meals to people living with HIV/AIDS, cancer and other serious illnesses. If you’re interested in bidding on one, you can get more info here.
The organizers took care not to repeat mistakes from the 2000 iteration of CowParade. They emphasized to the NY Times that the cows “were intentionally placed in high-visibility locations” this time so there’d be less of a chance of anyone defacing or trying to steal one.
Jerome Elbaum, the now 81-year-old founder of CowParade, also said the art on the cows this time around was overall much better than the “amateurish” 2000 versions. “The art, without exception, is the best we have ever produced,” he told the Times.
You can see a full list of all 78 cow designs here, including one with Citi Field across its side (Citi Of Dreams); one with Frida Kahlo’s face stretched across it (Frida Kowlo); another covered in light bulbs (Edison Cow); one that is basically a giant cactus planter (Flora, The Sustainable Cow Planter); one that has the subway map across it (In Transit); another that is an ode to Ella Fitzgerald (Queen Of Jazz Moosic); and lots more.
“We are thrilled to bring the CowParade back to NYC, as charity partner of the event, after more than 20 years,” Karen Pearl, President & CEO of God’s Love We Deliver, told Gothamist. “We know these beautiful cows will bring joy to our beloved city after such a difficult year. We hope New Yorkers enjoy this love letter to NYC!”
If you can’t quite remember what the cows looked like last time they were in town, check out this video of the original iterations: