Location: 80th Street, west side
Artist/Designer: Parks Department
Materials: Deer Isle granite
Funding: Charles B. Stover Memorial Association and Parks Department
This 20-foot bench in Shakespeare Garden, like the Waldo Hutchins Memorial Bench overlooking Central Park’s Conservatory Water, is an exedra design. To the delight of visitors, this is a “whispering bench”; speak softly into one corner, and somebody sitting on the other end can hear loud and clear.
The bench honors Charles Bunstein Stover (1861-1929), who trained as a Presbyterian minister but spent most of his career as a social worker and eventually New York City Parks Commissioner. Working with Lillian Wald, Stover founded the Outdoor Recreation League (ORL), which advocated for children’s recreation. The ORL built nine privately funded playgrounds in the densely populated Lower East Side. The City took over the ORL and built the first municipal playground at Seward Park in 1903.
Although Stover did not create a playground for Central Park, as Parks Commissioner he helped to transform the rocky hillside between West Drive and Belvedere Castle into Shakespeare Garden. This understated memorial serves as a lovely spot to watch birds, have a conversation, or just enjoy the beauty of the garden.
Charles B. Stover Memorial
Bench (Whispering Bench)
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