NYPL - Lion (Fortitude) and Truth

"But above all things, truth beareth away the victory"


According to Henry Hope Reed in his book The New York Public Library, the sculptor Edward Clark Potter obtained the commission for the lions on the recommendation of August Saint-Gaudens, one of America's foremost sculptors. Potter was paid $8,000 for the modelling, and Piccirilli Brothers executed the carving for $5,000, using pink Tennessee marble.


The Lions have witnessed countless parades and pageants. They have been adorned with holly wreaths during the winter holidays and magnificent floral wreaths in springtime. They have been decked in tri-cornered hats and graduation caps. They have been photographed alongside countless tourists, replicated as bookends, caricatured in cartoons, and illustrated in numerous books. One even served as the hiding place for the cowardly lion in the motion picture The Wiz.


Their nicknames have changed over the decades. First they were called Leo Astor and Leo Lenox, after The New York Public Library founders John Jacob Astor and James Lenox. Later, they were known as Lady Astor and Lord Lenox (even though they are both male lions). During the 1930s, Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia named them Patience and Fortitude, for the qualities he felt New Yorkers would need to survive the economic depression. These names have stood the test of time: Patience still guards the south side of the Library's steps and Fortitude sits unwaveringly to the north.



  • Non Active Account 8y

    Very nice! Thanks for the words and the picture!

    Hi, I'm an admin for a group called Pictures from New York City, and we'd love to have your photo added to the group.
  • Kathleen Tyler Conklin 8y

    Thanks. I love the library and Bryant Park.
  • Nicole Marti 8y

    Great shot!
  • Annie in Beziers 8y

    Impressive. Well done, Kathleen.
  • Mlle Mathilde 8y

    Wonderful. Simply wonderful...and I love so much your description . Thanks for sharing all these informations Kathy ! I love to know always more and more about things ... Patience and Fortitude .
    I was wondering how much bis is the Library ... an heaven .
  • Kathleen Tyler Conklin 8y

    Mathilde - So glad you liked this. More info on the NY Public Library

    NYPL Collections
    The New York Public Library operates 86 circulating libraries in three boroughs and four major research facilities in Manhattan (the Humanities and Social Sciences Library; The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts; the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture; and the Science, Industry and Business Library).

    You will find over 50 million items in the Library's collections. Of these, about 20 million are books. Remaining items include manuscripts, letters, audio recordings, films and videos, maps, sheet music and orchestral parts, pictures, materials for the blind, prints, photographs, clipppings and more.
  • Kathleen Tyler Conklin 8y

    Thanks Annie and Nicole!
  • david pham 8y

    Nice composition... and the texture on the lion is gorgeous...
  • Kathleen Tyler Conklin 8y

    Thanks David!
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Taken on March 17, 2006
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