in the Public Realm
The Library Flagpoles and Lions

New York Public Library Flagpoles and Lions
Thomas Tarangioli
Sites at this Tour Stop...

Flagpole Bases

Patience and Fortitude

About this Tour Stop...

As you walk south on Fifth Avenue towards the library you will see some truly spectacular flagpoles. The bases labeled 21 on the Art Map, were created in 1912 by Thomas Hastings and Raffaele J. Menconi in collaboration with Tiffany Studios. They have been called 'the most beautiful in the country'. As you continue walking along the perimeter of the New York City Public Library, you will come across the famous lions that flank the main entrance and one of the 'best outdoor meeting places in the city' (marked 187). Nicknamed 'Patience and Fortitude" by Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia, the lions have become so emblematic of the Library that they have even been trademarked. At Christmas they wear large green wreathes with red bows; at Easter the wreathes are floral. They have worn graduation caps, and have been featured in many movies. They were created in 1911 by Sculptor Edward Clark Potter who was known for his animal sculptures and carved by the Piccirilli brothers. Potter was paid $8000 for his modeling; the Piccirilli brothers received $5000. There is a similar pair of lions at the East Entrance of the Morgan Library that Potter also made. Next please look at the facade and sculptural adornment on the front of the library. It took 9 years to complete them all. Considered by many to be among the most noteworthy examples of Beaux Arts architectural sculpture in the country, they symbolize various fields of knowledge reflective of the Library's function.