New York Public Library’s iconic lions are back on guard and better than ever

November 1, 2019

Photo from this afternoon, by 6sqft

After spending the last two months outside of public view getting a “full spa treatment,” the New York Public Library’s majestic lions are back to guarding the institution. Patience and Fortitude have been in place since the 42nd Street Library opened in 1911 and were named by Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia during the Depression to signify the characteristics New Yorkers needed to survive the tough times. The iconic duo was carved by the Piccirilli Brothers out of porous Tennessee pink marble, making them quite susceptible to the elements and the toll of time. The pair requires conservation efforts every seven to 10 years and were last restored in 2011. The last bits of the scaffolding will be removed during the day on Friday, just in time for the annual Library Lions fundraising gala on Monday, November 4.

New York Public Library, Library Lions, Restoration, Patience, Fortitude

New York Public Library, Library Lions, Restoration, Patience, Fortitude

New York Public Library, Library Lions, Restoration, Patience, Fortitude

Restoration images by Jonathan Blanc; courtesy of NYPL

WJE Engineers and Architects determined that the 108-year-old lions needed a laser cleaning and repairs to several minor cracks and chips. That work was done by Integrated Conservation Contracting and included filling the cracks with grout and reinforcing any previous repairs. The project required $270,000 and was paid for with a grant from The New York Life Foundation and donations from hundreds of New Yorkers.

“For over a century Patience and Fortitude have sat outside the Library, calmly assuring New Yorkers, scholars and visitors that truth and knowledge will always prevail, even in the darkest times,” said New York Public Library President Anthony W. Marx. “It is our responsibility to be great stewards of our beloved, noble lions and ensure that they are in the best possible condition to inspire the public now and for generations to come. Thanks to this project, they are back to being the true kings of this city.”

Keep an eye out later this month when the lions will begin donning their annual holiday season wreaths.


Restoration images by Jonathan Blanc, courtesy of NYPL. Photos from November 1, 2019 by 6sqft.

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