NYC Raven: The Scold of Broadway

A belligerent raven, sculpted by Peter Woytuk, hangs out near the entrance to the subway station on Broadway and 72nd Street. The big bronze bird appears to have taken on the character of a neighborhood scold.

“Ever hear of personal space, pal? Back off, or I bite.”

An equal opportunity scold, the raven’s most common targets are walkers.

“Get off the damn cell phone, son!”

But the bird is not above nagging the occasional sleeper.

“Sleeper, awake! There is no time but now! Let’s go, buddy, rise and shine.”

On a recent visit to my neighborhood on-line newspaper, the West Side Rag, I was surprised to encounter this photo of the raven.

Photo courtesy of West Side Rag (click photo to visit)

Notice anything strange? Okay, I’ll tell you. The raven is facing the other direction.

Given that the bird weighs many hundreds of pounds, this is decidedly odd. In an accompanying article, the Rag surmises that someone, “probably young, drunk and strong,” is responsible for changing the bird’s position. “Please sir or madam,” implores the writer, ” do not do this again. It is messing with our collective heads.”

But I have a different theory about the raven’s rotation. Have you ever tried to scold someone who’s standing behind you? Of course not. An effective scold always gets right up in the face of his or her target.

Now take a look at the photo below.

“Put that drink down! Put that cigarette out! Are you listening to one word I say?”

The raven rants and raves, but that young man goes right on smoking and guzzling.

But I imagine there comes a moment, out of sight of any camera, when the raven suddenly snaps, spins, and unleashes the full fury of the scold. In terror, the man throws down his cigarette and drink, and runs for shelter into the subway. He’ll never take another puff, and never buy another soda.

This is just one of the unexpected health benefits of sharing the city with wildlife.

And just so you know, we really do share the city with flesh-and-blood ravens. A single raven was brought to NYC by a man who found it injured in Idaho in 2008. The raven spent a couple of years living in Marble Cemetery on the Lower East Side. According to Animal Tourism News, the bird eventually healed and, just last spring, flew away to parts unknown. In addition, a pair of wild ravens have successfully nested and raised young in Queens.

Click to see more of Peter Woytuk’s street sculptures, which are dotted along the Broadway subway line from Columbus Circle (a pair of elephants) to 168th Street in northern Manhattan (three resting bulls). See the locations here, on a lovely map. Then take the Number 1 train to Columbus Circle and head north, or walk south from the subway stop at 168th Street and Broadway.
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13 Comments on “NYC Raven: The Scold of Broadway”


  1. [...] crows were created by Kenyon graduate Peter Woytuk, whose work with animals, including crows, has been seen all over New York City, including in front [...]

  2. p hoey Says:

    Quoth this raven, EVERMORE!

    And we can only hope so, whichever way she or he faces…

  3. mthew Says:

    That’s some acorn.

    If it’s so moveable, how come nobody has taken it? Or is that just something I’d expect from the Upper EAST Side?

  4. John Says:

    i love the one scolding the late sleeper..

  5. CGJ Says:

    I love bronze wildlife statuary. Bronze seems to be THE medium for capturing a naturalistic representation of the subject. This raven statue is an excellent example!

  6. Charlotte Says:

    This is a whole theatre piece; Act one, before the raven, act two, behind the raven, act three, the raven spinning in circles for all that it must survey. Very funny!


  7. Sorry to mislead you! We do have real ones in Queens, as I mentioned, which is pretty amazing. I’m heading out to British Columbia later this month, which I think of as Corvid Central. I’m hoping to see ravens while there. Fascinating birds.

  8. retrieverman Says:

    Gosh, I thought it was going to be a live one.

    We have plenty of them all around here.

    No one expect this until they come into the woods and hear the ‘tok-tok’ sound.


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