NYPL’s famous marble lions mark 109th birthday with a virtual party

May 8, 2020

Courtesy of NYPL

The New York Public Library’s historic marble lions turn 109 on May 11 and New Yorkers are invited to their rip-roaring celebration. Carved by the Piccirilli Brothers in 1911, Patience and Fortitude have long guarded the library’s Stephen A. Schwarzman Building on Fifth Avenue. From a special storytime to lion-curated book lists, the activities highlight the lions’ role as symbols of New York’s resilience.

Originally called 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.

“It doesn’t matter how scary and uncertain the world feels, the lions stand strong, somehow both protective and welcoming. That certainly resonates today,” Anthony Marx, president of the library, said in a press release. “On their birthday, we hope the lions and all they stand for provide some calm, inspiration, and hope for the people of New York City.”

On Monday, May 11, the library is offering a number of free virtual activities to celebrate the lions as they turn 109. Events include a Twitter takeover from Patience and Fortitude, a special storytime reading of Lost in the Library: A Story of Patience and Fortitude, coloring sheets, an online quiz, and a list of personal reading recommendations from the lions themselves. Activities can be found at nypl.org/lions.

While all NYPL branches remain closed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, you can find a ton of remote library resources, like e-books, databases, and more, here. And New Yorkers can apply for a library card to gain access to e-books here.


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