Today, the New York Public Library lions, Patience and Fortitude, turn 109 years old! Newly restored last fall, the lions have long sat on pedestals in front of the New York Public Library’s “main branch” on 5th Avenue and 42nd Street. The New York Public Library calls the lions “symbols of New York City’s resilience and strength,” and the popularity of the lions amongst New Yorkers is a testament to their role in the city. The lions were named by the always-entertaining Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia in the 1930s when he believed New Yorkers needed something to uplift them during the Great Depression — and in particularly, that New Yorkers needed both patience and fortitude to get their the economic crisis. “That certainly resonates today,” writes the NYPL.
“For over 100 years, Patience and Fortitude have stood calmly at the center of a bustling city, proudly poised regardless of circumstance,” said Anthony W. Marx, president of The New York Public Library. “It doesn’t matter how scary and uncertain the world feels, the lions stand strong, somehow both protective and welcoming. That certainly resonates today. On their birthday, we hope the lions and all they stand for provide some calm, inspiration, and hope for the people of New York
However, these are not the only pair of lions guarding a NYC public library?
Actually, there are two more lions, a pair, of sleeping, cousins, in the Bronx,at the NYC Riverdale Library. The lions, each weighing about 900 pounds are sprawled lazily on stone pedestals with their eyelids closed at the libraries entrance.
Though smaller than the NYCPL lions, they began their public life at the Loews Regency Hotel on Park Avenue. At their present location in Riverdale, they have been named “River” and “Dale.”
Are these the only pair(s) of lions in the city?
Are you are familiar with two lions named Stephen and Stitt,?
These two lions keep watch over the HSBC bank at Canal Street and Bowery.
History: Lions have appeared on the English coat-of-arms ever since the arrival of William the Conqueror in 1066, and the Peking Lion holds a great significance in Chinese tradition. It isn’t surprising therefore, that two lion sculptures can be found guarding many of the HSBC offices around the world today. Note: The HSBC name is derived from the initials of the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation.
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