What makes Central Park’s “whisper bench” so unusual and enchanting

Some parts of Central Park encourage loud noise—the ballfields, the playgrounds, and the areas under Bethesda Terrace and certain bridges, where buskers play to enthusiastic crowds.

Other sections call for quiet and softness, and park visitors know to lower their voices. That’s where the whisper bench, inside the lush and lovely Shakespeare Garden, comes in.

Officially known as the Charles B. Stover bench, this smooth granite half-circle earned its nickname “because a whisper spoken into one end of the bench can be heard on the other side,” explains the Central Park Conservatory.

The 20-foot bench that curls inward at the ends is unlike any of the 10,000 mostly wood benches spread out across Central Park. It’s also one of the park’s most enchanting places to sit, surrounded by four shady acres of flowers, herbs, and trees mentioned in Shakespeare’s plays and poems.

The Shakespeare Garden was a favorite of Charles Stover, who served as city parks commissioner in the 1910s. Stover was a longtime advocate for New York’s parks and playgrounds, according to the Conservatory.

The bench bearing his name was dedicated in 1936, two decades after the Garden was established. Since then, it’s been popular with curious park-goers who test out the acoustics, as well as those seeking peace and contemplation. It’s also a romantic setting, so expect couples to stop and sit close.

There’s 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 whisper, your words can be heard across the space thanks to the vaulted ceilings.

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13 Responses to “What makes Central Park’s “whisper bench” so unusual and enchanting”

  1. Fred Ost Says:

    The whispering gallery at Grand Central Terminal IS real. I have tested it out several times.

  2. S.S. Says:

    Where exactly is this bench located?
    And, yes, the whispering gallery in Grand Central is real.

  3. 40buick Says:

    Another enchanting story from the big apple 🍎

    Sent from my iPad

    >

  4. Ettagale Says:

    The Whispering gallery in Grand Central terminal is definitely real, not supposed. I have taken many tourists there, placed them at diagonally opposite parts of the gallery, and watched them enjoy this phenomenon.

  5. countrypaul Says:

    New york City has become so loud in recent years; it’s wonderful to have these quiet public places (or in the case of GCT, semi-public). And yes, I’ve experimented with the whispering gallery and it is indeed real and a delightful surprise no matter how often I’ve done it. Guastevino was on to something….

  6. baton babe Says:

    Thank you so much! These things are mighty interesting, I must say (as Marty Short would utter!) I will be turtle-watching and whispering in strange places in the days ahead.

  7. David Handelman Says:

    Central Park has a second whispering bench, Waldo Hutchins, just north of the 72nd Street/5th ave information booth on the path to the Conservatory Water. https://www.centralparknyc.org/locations/waldo-hutchins-bench

    • ephemeralnewyork Says:

      Cool, thanks for posting this! I know that bench but I didn’t know it had the same whisper magic.

  8. Andrew Porter Says:

    There are two sets of these sort of benches in the Osborne Garden at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden—one set at the north side, near the Eastern Parkway entrance to the BBG, the other at the south end, in front of a circular fountain.

  9. chas1133 Says:

    Hit the Oyster Bar and tell her you love her…well…whisper it

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