New York Public Library’s iconic marble lions show off oversized bandages to encourage vaccination

November 8, 2021

Photo credit: Jonathan Blanc / NYPL

The marble lions that have guarded the New York Public Library’s mane branch for 110 years are now wearing oversized red bandages. The library last week announced Patience and Fortitude received their Covid-19 vaccine, with newly applied 14-by 4.6-inch bandaids as proof. The library hopes the lions’ new look encourages more New Yorkers to get vaccinated.

According to the library, the huge bandages are made of vinyl, which will not damage the marble. The bandages will be displayed on the lions, which sit outside of the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building on Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street, “periodically to support city vaccination efforts.”

“Considering their age, our lions were eligible for the COVID vaccine early on, so they’re now likely getting their boosters,” Iris Weinshall, the library’s Chief Operating Officer, said.

“Still, we thought now was a good time to roar about vaccines from the steps of Fifth Avenue, especially to help highlight the CDC’s recent approval of the vaccine for kids aged 5 to 11. We support the City’s efforts to get all New Yorkers vaccinated, as it’s the best and mane way to keep each other safe.”

Last summer, the lions also wore three-foot-by-two foot face masks, to remind New Yorkers to stay safe and help fight against the spread of Covid. Patience and Fortitude don wreaths every December, wore Yankees and Mets baseball caps during the 2000 Subway Series, and wore top hats to celebrate the library’s 100th anniversary in 1995.

Originally named Leo Astor and Leo Lenox after the founders of the NYPL, John Jacob Astor and James Lenox, former Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia changed their names in the 1930s to Patience and Fortitude, two qualities he felt New Yorkers needed to survive the Great Depression. The lions were carved in 1911 by the Piccirilli Brothers.


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