Location: 72nd Street, east side
Artist/Designer: Piccirilli Brothers, bench designer; Paul Manship, sculptor of sundial figure; Eric Gugler, architect
Materials: Bronze, Concord white granite
Funding: August S. Hutchins (son of Waldo Hutchins)
Waldo Hutchins (1822–1891) was one of the original commissioners overseeing the construction of Central Park and a three-term Representative to the United States Congress. Largely a testament to public service, this bench also serves as a celestial clock. The Latin inscription across the high back of the bench, reads “Alteri vivas oportet si vis tibi vivere,” which roughly translates as “You should live for another if you would live for yourself.” The sundial in the center, with a bronze figure attributed to Paul Manship, also has a Latin saying: “Ne diruatur fuga temporum,” loosely translated as “Let it not be destroyed by the passage of time.”
The sundial is not the only time feature of the bench. On the base or floor in front of it are three arcs, labeled 10 am, noon, and 2 pm. In theory, on the vernal and autumnal equinoxes, the shadow from the back of the bench, given enough sunlight, falls precisely on the inscribed lines at the correct times. However, daylight savings time has thrown the paved clock off by an hour in the spring.
The bench is an exedra, a design from ancient Greece and Rome. High-backed, semicircular stone benches such as this were often placed in building niches for quiet conversation. If two people sit at opposite ends and speak softly into the bench, they can easily hear each other.
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