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Famous New York Public Library Lions Mask Up To Set An Example

Photo caption:

Photo by Jonathan Blanc New York Public Library

The marble lions outside the New York Public Library in midtown Manhattan are wearing face masks to remind New Yorkers to follow COVID-19 safety guidelines. Throughout their 109-year history the sculptures have worn baseball caps, top hats and wreaths.

For the first time, the familiar marble faces outside the New York Public Library will be obscured by masks.

Patience and Fortitude, the iconic lion sculptures guarding the 42nd Street library, are wearing face coverings to remind New Yorkers to stay safe and stop the spread of COVID-19.

The masks arrived on June 29, and measure three feet wide by two feet tall, according to a library statement.

New York Public Library President Anthony Marx emphasized the symbolism of the aptly named lions, and said New Yorkers are similarly strong and resilient.

"We will get to the other side of this public health crisis together," Marx said. "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. The lions, protectors of knowledge and truth who have seen 109 years worth of history, are setting that example."

The library system serves the Bronx, Manhattan and Staten Island, and has been closed since mid-March. It is preparing to reopen a limited number of branches for grab-and-go service starting July 13, with masks required for entry as well as curbside service.

The historic lions have been known to dress for the occasion over the years.

They wore top hats for the library system's centennial in 1995, and Mets and Yankees caps during the 2000 Subway Series. They also don holiday wreaths every December.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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