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NYC’s most famous lions send reminder of coronavirus safety at NYPL

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Posted at 9:05 PM, Jun 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-30 12:19:17-04

MIDTOWN MANHATTAN — A couple of New York City’s most well-known monuments donned a brand new accessory Monday: face masks.

The lion-sized masks, which are three feet wide and two feet tall, lie across the icons’ faces outside of the New York Public Library. The giant masks are meant to remind New Yorkers of the executive order that requires people to wear them in public, according to the NYPL. They'll also remind library visitors that masks are required in order to pick up and drop off books.

Beloved Patience and Fortitude celebrated their 109th birthday in May and have been guarding the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building on Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street for just as long.

“Like them, New Yorkers are strong and resilient and can weather any storm. We will get to the other side of this public health crisis together,” said NYPL President Anthony W. Marx. “But to do so, we must remain vigilant, we must have patience and fortitude, and we must follow what experts tell us, especially as we continue to reopen our cities.”

It is traditional for the NYPL to decorate the lions, as they do every year with wreaths every December. The pair even wore Mets and Yankees caps during the 2000 Subway Series — but this is their first time wearing masks.

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, according to the NYPL. That message still applies as residents fight the battle against COVID-19, says Marx.

The lions may be continuing a trend, as the infamous Rockefeller gold statues debuted their giant masks a week ago.