After nine weeks out of the public eye, the New York Public Library’s famed marble lions are back at their perch on Fifth Avenue, stoically welcoming visitors to NYC’s 42nd Street Library.
The symbolic statues, named Patience and Fortitude, have guarded the 42nd Street library since its opening in 1911. But time has taken its toll on the pair, which were crafted from porous Tennessee pink marble. Between the city’s snow, rain, wind, and traffic exhaust, the iconic statues require upkeep every seven to 10 years. An assessment determined that the 108-year-old lions needed a laser cleaning and repairs to several minor cracks and chips. The work lasted two months and included filling the cracks with grout and reinforcing any previous repairs.
The $270,000 project wrapped up Friday with the removal of all scaffolding.
“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.”
The repairs were funded by a grant from The New York Life Foundation and donations from hundreds of New Yorkers, according to a library spokesperson.
“We see our support as more than simply a restoration but rather a celebration of our nearly 80-year partnership and all that the library represents to visitors near and far,” said Heather Nesle, president of the New York Life Foundation.
Some trivia about Patience & Virtue
Carved in the Bronx studios of the Piccirilli Brothers and named by Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia during the Depression because he believed New Yorkers needed “patience and fortitude” to survive the tough times
Lions are an international symbol of open access to knowledge and information
They were last conserved in 2011; before that 2004
The lions will begin wearing their annual holiday season wreaths later this month. The wreaths were made special for Patience and Fortitude; they include no metal and do not retain water to protect the marble
About the library
The NYPL has 92 NYC locations—including research and branch libraries—throughout the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island
It offers free materials, computer access, classes, exhibitions, programming and more to everyone from toddlers to scholars
Serves 18 million+ people annually, and millions more around the world who use its resources at www.nypl.org
Learn more about how to support the Library at nypl.org/support