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Mayor De Blasio Says 'Fearless Girl' Statue Can Stay Through February 2018

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- The wildly popular statue of a young girl staring down Wall Street's famous "Charging Bull'' will be allowed to remain through February 2018, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Monday.

As CBS2's Alice Gainer reported, many are explaining why her presence means so much.

The statue of a ponytailed girl in a windblown dress was installed in front of the bronze bull on March 8 in honor of International Women's Day. It immediately became a tourist draw and internet sensation.

Every day now, hundreds of people flock to the Financial District to see the 4-foot-tall bronze statue, CBS2's Alice Gainer reported.

"She's strong, but not belligerent. She's proud, but not confrontational," said artist Kristen Visbal.

Fearless Girl was unveiled earlier this month on the eve of International Women's Day. She was originally supposed to stay until April 2, but the statue, which stands on Department of Transportation property, will get a longer-term permit through the department's art program.

De Blasio said the artwork, called "Fearless Girl,'' has inspired many people and "fueled powerful conversations about women in leadership.''

"Sometimes a work of art captures the moment in history, and that's what's happened here," de Blasio said. "This statue has crystallized this moment in history and has given a message of power and personal empowerment to women and girls."

Thus, the statue will remain in place until next International Women's Day, the mayor said.

He calls the decision "a fitting path for a girl who refuses to quit.''

MORE: Should Wall Street's 'Fearless Girl' Statue Stay For Good?

Some want the work of art on permanent display.

"The importance of empowering women is not temporary, and Fearless Girl must become a permanent fixture in our city as a reminder to all women that no dream is too big and no ceiling is too high," Public Advocate Letitia James said in a statement.

On Monday morning, U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) led a group of prominent women in front of City Hall to artist Visbal, and State Street Global Advisors, the asset management firm that commissioned the work.

The firm commissioned the statue to call on their clients to increase the number of women on corporate boards. According to a January 2016 Government Accountability Office report, women take up just 16 percent of seats in the boardroom.

Maloney had been pushing for the statue, which was accepted into the Department of Transportation Art Program. Now, she is pushing for the statue to become a permanent installation.

"That fearless girl is my daughter, my mother, my sisters, my colleagues, my friends, myself when I was younger," Maloney said.

Visbal said the positive response to her artwork "renewed my faith in sculpture to make an impact on society, to create a debate the way a good piece of art should.''

She said she's received more than 1,000 emails from around the world, including from a mother who wanted to wallpaper her daughter's room with the girl's image.

"I see men and women as the yin and yang of society,'' Visbal said. "They bring different things to the table. They solve problems in a different way. But we need to work together.''

For those coming to check out the statue, it means more than just a photo op.

"It just like, said something that we have like more; like we kind of have power now, so it says something to us," one girl said.

"I thought it was girl power," another girl said.

"Having a daughter, it's just – it's a really, really powerful symbol," a man said.

The bull, created by Arturo Di Modica, arrived after the 1987 stock market crash as a symbol of Americans' financial resilience and can-do spirit. Di Modica wants the girl gone, saying the statue was an "advertising trick'' fashioned by two corporate giants, including the McCann advertising firm, while his sculpture was "art.''

(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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