Update: I went back in January of 2020 to photograph the area on the inside and outside of the gates. Also, the two statues are a lion and a tiger.
I finally figured out why the lions, which also happen to be a male and female, face towards the Loop.
These gates are the entrance to University Heights, a subdivision laid out to the northwest along Delmar.
Continuing with the university theme, the streets are named after Ivy League schools.
Read more about the building of University Heights here.