Thursday, November 18, 2010

Patience and Fortitude

These are the names of the two majestic lion statues that flank the front door of the New York City Library. One of the world's largest repository of books, the NYC Library is a modern marvel and second in this country only to the Library of Congress (which is the world's largest library).

Patience and Fortitude were sculpted from Tennessee pink marble and have been standing guard since the Library's opening dedication on May 23, 1911.

They are super-popular in New York and are themselves their own tourist attraction. The tradition of dressing them up for holidays and events has been discouraged in recent years in order to preserve them. The lions recently underwent a total renovation in 2004 and were scrubbed clean for the first time since the Library opened.

The lions are synonomous with the Library and were even made into the Library's official logo and trademarked.

Their original names were Leo Astor and Leo Lenox, after The New York Public Library founders John Jacob Astor (who died on the Titanic) and James Lenox. They were renamed Patience and Fortitude by Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia during the economic downturn of the 1930's. He so named them "for the qualities he felt New Yorkers would need to survive the economic depression." The names were golden and have never been changed since.

Library's Page on the Lions

There's a book about them!

Patience - guards the southside

Fortitude - the North

1 comment:

Mikki said...

Love them! Just got pictures of them back in May. The library is undergoing a huge restoration!