NEW YORK CITY — Two of New York City’s most well-known monuments donned a brand new accessory Monday: face masks.
The enormous masks, which are three feet wide and two feet tall, cover the faces of the lion statues that guard the New York Public Library (NYPL). 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.
The masks are also meant to remind library visitors that face coverings are required in order to pick up and drop off books.
The statues — named Patience and Fortitude — celebrated their 109th birthday in May.
“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,” NYPL President Anthony W. 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."
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 when the teams squared off in the 2000 World 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, Marx said.
The lions may be continuing a trend, as the Rockefeller gold statues debuted giant masks a week ago.
This story was originally published by Sydney N. Shuler on WPIX in New York.