Patience and Fortitude

As our 250th post on “Every Building on Fifth” we visit two of the most immediately recognizable and beloved works of public art in the city.

Officially named “Leo Astor” and “Leo Lennox” to honor two of the original major patrons of the New York Public Library’s collections, the pair of stone lions that guard the entrance to the Main Branch are perhaps better known by their Depression-era nicknames of Patience and Fortitude.

Sculpted by Edward Clark Potter, Patience sits to the south of the main stair and Fortitude to the north.  In the past they have occasionally sported baseball caps to mark a “subway series” as well as top hats and holiday wreathes.

Rumors that they were hired at and subsequently fired from the cat-alogue department are a frivolous calumny.

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