On the rare occasion when an animal breaks loose on the way to the slaughterhouse in today’s city, his plucky escape ends up scoring him a forever home at a farm sanctuary.
A century ago, the story ended in a hail of bullets. That’s what happened to this bold bull, one of 200 brought to the city on a November day in 1913. The bulls were temporarily held at the New York Stock Company on West 60th Street and the Hudson River before they were to be sent to the abattoir.
But thanks to a gate left ajar, 26 of the bulls managed to break free. Eight left the stockyard. One got as far as Central Park West and 80th Street, where he collided with a delivery wagon.
The bull in the photo had another idea.
“One lumbering steer seeking to escape pursuit turned into Fifth Avenue and 59th Street and, dodging bullets which were fired at it by pursuing policemen, caused such uproar that Fifth Avenue thought that either a gangsters’ battle was in progress or a Wild West show had lost its bearings,” wrote The New York Times the next day.
After the bull detoured to Madison Avenue, a patrolman fired a shot that accidentally killed a construction-site watchman. A hotel waiter was also shot in the crossfire.
Finally the bull charged down 50th Street. Bleeding from previous shots, he died in front of the mansion that today is home to the New York Palace hotel.
[Photo: Bain Collection]