The whispering gallery in Grand Central Terminal

Among the loveliness inside Grand Central Terminal—the starry-skied ceiling, the clocks, the chandeliers—are some wonderful architectural mysteries.


One that appears to have been an accident of design is the whispering gallery. It’s on the lower level outside the Oyster Bar, under beautiful original Gustavino tiles on a low domed ceiling.

Face the wall and whisper, and your words can be clearly heard on other side of the 50-foot space—thanks to the way sound waves travel across the vaulted ceiling.


No evidence exists that the whispering gallery was anything more than a “happy coincidence,” says one of the architects who helped restore Grand Central in the 1990s, states this New York Times piece.

But other sources say it must have been intentional.


Rafael Gustavino and his son designed this part of the terminal “based on architectural principles that have been used for centuries worldwide—from St. Paul’s Cathedral in London to the Temple of Heaven in Beijing to the Gol Gumbaz in Bijapur, India,” according to New York Curiosities.

[Second image: postcard of the Whispering Gallery before the Oyster Bar was added; New York Times]

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7 Responses to “The whispering gallery in Grand Central Terminal”

  1. Kenny Says:

    This is where jazz great Charles Mingus proposed marriage to his soon to be wife.

  2. diane Says:

    Trees grow in Brooklyn too!

  3. Adriane Says:

    There is a Whispering Arch at the old Saint Louis Train Station.

  4. The meaning behind Grand Central’s chandeliers | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] Central Terminal (never call it Station!) is a treasure of beautiful interiors. If you’ve ever noticed an acorn and leaf motif, that’s the Vanderbilt family […]

  5. roxanne behany Says:

    I am the one who showed this trick to Charles…my father had
    shown me…He used the NY Central for 50 years

  6. Chip Says:

    It is reasonable to expect that it done with knowledge aforethought. The Capitol in Washington has a similar phenomenon which was purposely designed that way.

  7. What makes Central Park’s “whisper bench” so unusual and enchanting | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] another place in Manhattan also famous for whispers: the “whispering gallery” of Grand Central Terminal. It’s on the lower level of the station. Supposedly if you stand against the wall and […]

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