Who Are Patience and Fortitude?
My two favorite lions guard the front entrance of the main branch of the New York Public Library. Long before the Internet (actually the first Internet message was sent in 1969, a free slideshow about that is on my slideshow page) became widely used, I would make the subway trip downtown to do research at this branch as it had the most extensive periodical holdings.
They are located in front of the main entrance to the Library on 5th Avenue.
They were put in place on 23 May 1911.
They gained their names during the Great Depression by Mayor LaGuardia, who was named after the airport, because he felt those two qualities were what was needed to get New Yorkers through those hard years.
The cost of the lions? $5,000 in 1911 money. That comes out to about $150,000 in today’s dollars, which is still actually cheap. I guess the mob didn’t get a cut.
BTW, to remember which is which, Patience is on the south side and Fortitude, is on the north side which is closer to Forty-Second Street.
Teddy Roosevelt, the infamous Rough Rider, didn’t like them. He thought they should be bison. Why? Who knows. Actually, given his background, that’s pretty obvious.
Then again, Benjamin Franklin thought our national bird should be the turkey, not the eagle. Go figure.
John Astor, who chipped in some bucks to the library, thought they should be beavers. His family had made its early fortune in beaver pelts.
They are both males. Because. Misogyny.