Living in New York City for a long period of time give you the false sense that you have seen pretty much the strangest things you could ever see already. Then one day you are walking by the Hudson River on the west side of the city and you see a giant limestone cow head inside a wooden crate. It is then you realize that no matter how long you live in this city, explore its many avenues, expose its many secrets, that there will always be something, somewhere waiting to surprise you–which is what we aim to do here at Untapped Cities.
By Hudson River Park, on a vacant lot next to a NYPD tow pound are the heads of two steers and two rams. The rams are hidden inside their wooden crates, with the words Ram Head #1 and Ram Head #2 stenciled onto the crate. The cow heads, however, are a little more visible. One of them, whose crate is becoming more and more decayed has one side completely open, where those passing by can visibly see the enormous piece of marble stare back at them. The second is clear out in the open, its ears taped up, staring up to the sky, not too far from its original home.
According to an article in the Times, the heads of the cows and rams were once apart of the now torn down New York Butchers’ Dressed Meat Company building, which was built in 1919. The heads, which are about four feet tall and weigh a ton, survived the demolition thanks to protests from city preservationists, however they have not had a permanent place to call home since.
Leading back to the article, the heads were stored “in a warehouse in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, where the Landmarks Preservation Commission collected such relics from 1983 to 2000 as part of an architectural salvage program.” When the program disbanded in 2000, the heads and other parts of the building were put up for auction and salvaged by the Hudson River Park Trust.
The cows and rams were purchased to be placed around the four mile park. While the limestone sculptures are in the right part of town now, they rest in an area that has still not be completely converted into parkland. The park is still in need of funds to fully repair the 30% of land still vacant. Until then the heads are left alone to face the elements. But do not fear–those sculptures were made to last. We are sure they can handle a couple more bad winters better than we can.
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