Patience and Fortitude

The Library Lions


Sculptor Edward Clark Potter created the lions, which were carved in pink Tennessee marble by the Piccirilli brothers. They were later nicknamed "Patience" and "Fortitude" by Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia. At first, the lions were called many names, including Leo Astor and Leo Lenox for the Library`s co-founders, as well as “Lady” Astor and Lord Lenox (even though they`re both male lions). Sculptor Edward Clark Potter obtained the commission for the lions, but the Piccirilli Brothers executed the carving—for $5,000. When they were first unveiled, some folks didn`t like them, including former President Teddy Roosevelt, who thought the library should have bison (as they are North American animals). In a similar vein, a small group of people thought beavers should flank the building in honor of Library co-founder John Astor, whose family had made a fortune in beaver pelts. They were placed on their pedestals a few days before the 42nd Street library was dedicated on May 23, 1911. The lions are larger than life, stretching more than 11 feet (not counting the tail), about three feet longer than their real-life counterparts.

Constructed, 1911