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New York City is crammed with people. If you take an early morning or late evening stroll, it will become obvious that it’s also chock full of dogs. But what you may not realize is that the city is teeming with lions.

They stand guard above…

and glower below.

They meow in the morning…

contemplate lunch…

and snarl in the evening.

Some want to play…

while others won’t give you the time of day.

All of these lions made me wonder why, of all animals, are lions so popular?

It’s because everyone loves lions! Lions first showed up in the Paleolithic cave paintings of Lascaux, France, and they never left. They’ve appeared in sculpture and statuary since the origin of civilization, are found in cultures across Europe, Africa and Asia and are thought of everywhere as the King of Beasts. They symbolize bravery, valor, strength and loyalty. They’re the epitome of power, both primal and royal.

Have you noticed that the Sphinx in Egypt has a lioness’s body? There are lions at the entrances to cities and sacred sites, in palaces, temples and tombs, in the Bible, on flags and coats of arms. They appear as gods, on currency, as symbols of ancient dynasties, in movies, literature and myth.

Lions also symbolize guardianship and protection, which explains why they’re found on many doorsteps. With so much work to do, it’s no surprise that they’re with us still. Next time you’re wandering the streets, look around… lions abound!

All photos shot on Diana cameras, printed on warm tone Ilford paper.