Flashback: The iguana days of Pier 25

In talking about the 25th anniversary of Hudson River Park, Bob Townley of Manhattan Youth dug up some old pics and this series is just amazing. Clearly it’s a 40-foot iguana constructed by Bob Wade, a Texas artist known as Daddy-O who built wacky and monumental public art that, as his Times obit noted, “could not be ignored.” I am guessing from what I’ve learned that this is the early ’90s, though perhaps someone can nail down the year…

Iggy was originally installed at the Lone Star Cafe, a honky-tonk bar on Fifth and 13th in the 1970s. It remained there through lawsuits and rooftop concerts and the adoration of fans like Ed Koch until the bar closed in 1989, and then somehow landed on Pier 25 for about a year, when Bob snapped these shots. Eventually it made its way to the Fort Worth Zoo, where it was acquired by the oilman Lee M. Bass in 2007 for the zoo’s herpetarium. At the time, Bass’ wife was the co-chairwoman of the zoo, according to The Times. (N. went digging and found the video of the helicopter delivery, below.)

Wade has originally made the iguana for a display in Niagara Falls (it’s all explained in the documentary about his work, below, made in 1999 by Karen Dinitz) but when that ended, he decided it would find a good home in the city. “Impetuously picking up the phone one day at 2 a.m., he called Mort Cooperman, the [Lone Star’s] owner, and asked him if he would like to install the sculpture on the roof of the Lone Star building,” The Times obit says. “Mr. Cooperman said yes, agreeing to pay Mr. Wade $1,000 a year for Iggy — the deal was originally for five years — and $1,000 a year for his bar tab.”

Wade died at his home in Austin in December 2020. He was 76.



  1. Wasn’t it moved to El Teddy’s later?

  2. Yes, I believe it was on top of El Teddy’s until it closed.