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.
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They are actually a lion and a tiger (though we UCitians have long considered them a pair of lions). There are accounts of the sculptor, George Julian Zolnay, referring to “…working on my lion and tiger sculptures…” If you look closely at the “female” you can see the tiger resemblance.
Another interesting tidbit: The entrance to Lyon Estates, home to Marty McFly in Back to the Future, is based upon the Lion Gates.
Ah, that does look like a tiger! Thanks, Kim.
Actually, according to the article in a concrete publication from 1916 with pictures of the original models in the studio, and the complete story, it says they were 9 tons not 8, and it referred to them as LIONS not a lion and a tiger. Obviously they would know since they ran the article in 1916 and had photos of the models in it. It’s a male lion and a lioness up there, which makes perfect sense, a lion and tiger are natural enemies and would not normally be seen near one another anyway, whereas a lion and his mate would be.
Whoops! I was wrong on that, it IS a lion and a tiger, though it still doesn’t make sense.
It also seems the concrete originals were replaced with cheap fiberglass ( plastic ) replicas…
Yes, I have seen the discarded originals, cast off in an undisclosed location…