After nine weeks of restoration work, the lion statues that stand guard outside of the New York Public Library’s Stephen A. Schwarzman Building have been unveiled. The $250,000 project began in September and saw the lions, affectionately known as Patience and Fortitude, covered up and hidden from view. Now, the stoic marble creatures are back on guard and looking better than ever. When Untapped New York visited the library this morning, workers were still on site taking down the wood enclosure surrounding the second lion.


The iconic statues were carved in the Bronx studios of the Piccirilli Brothers 108 years ago. Their porous Tennessee pink marble makes them susceptible to wear and tear from New York City’s rain, wind, snow, traffic and exhaust. They require conservation work every seven to ten years. The conservation which has just been completed included filling in cracks with grout, doing a laser cleaning, and reinforcing previous repairs. The work was done by Integrated Conservation Contracting. The enclosures contained information about the history of the lions with the puns “Thank you for your PATIENCE” and Thank you for your “FORTITUDE.”

In process restoration photo by Jonathan Blanc/NYPL

Photo by Jonathan Blanc/NYPL

The restoration of Patience and Fortitude accompanies other repairs being made to the historic structure, and follows a massive restoration project in the Rose Reading Room. Designed by the famed architect team of Carrère and Hastings, the Beaux-Arts style building on Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street was dedicated in May of 1911. Like most buildings of the style, the library features many ornate architectural embellishments that require careful maintenance. Along with he lions, three ornamental plaster ceilings inside the library have been restored to their original beauty this fall. The on-going repairs and restorations ensure that the New York Public Library remains a shining treasure of New York City.

Next, check out The Top 10 Secrets of the New York Public Library at 42nd Street

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