New York Public Library’s Lions Don COVID-Proof Masks – and You Should Too

NYPL’s infamous lions, guarding the Bryant Park library, have been given face masks, in an effort to encourage humans – stone or otherwise – to do the same.

Book Culture Bookspot / Libraries Non-Fiction Wellness

It’s unlikely that any fashion columnist could have predicted that the COVID-19 mask would be Summer 2020’s top accessory, let alone that of the New York Public Library’s famous guardian lions! Masks have been added to the landmarks at the Steven A. Schwarzman Building in Manhattan, as of June 30th, where they are expected to remain for the duration of the pandemic. Like fellow fashionistas Blair and Serena on the steps of the Met, the marble statues sit atop the steps of the Bryant Park library, donning their masks as a reminder for the public to do the same.

In a tweet from NYPL, the library gave the lions the photoshoot they deserved and reminded patrons that as they are set to reopen, all will need to have a mask for entry. “As NYPL prepares to gradually reopen select physical locations on 7/13, #PatienceAndFortitude are setting an example. To pick up or drop off materials when locations reopen, masks will be mandatory.”


The lions are a long-standing landmark of Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue, created by sculptor Edward Clark Potter and carved in pink Tennessee marble by the Piccirilli brothers. The lions were initially called Leo Astor, and Leo Lenox, after the NYPL’s founders. Then, they were nicknamed Lady Astor and Lord Lenox (though they were thought to have both been male lions – but we love the representation!) Finally, during the 1930s and the depression, Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia named them Patience and Fortitude, as markers of qualities he felt New Yorkers needed at the time.



Having watched over New York’s battle with the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic, it is fitting that they are once more keeping an eye on New Yorkers, reminding all of the fortitude and patience that will be needed to weather the storm, per se. Their lion-sized masks also serve as a reminder to all humans that if the stone lions need them, so to do the flesh-and-blood citizens.

Plus, Patience and Fortitude aren’t the only ones:

Featured image via NYPL