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Central Park: The Hutchins Bench

Updated: Oct 18, 2023

On location with The Italian Factor

While wandering through Central Park, a vast expanse of greenery in the heart of New York, you might stumble upon a majestic memorial bench and sundial near Conservatory Water. This isn't just any bench but a tribute to Waldo Hutchins (1822–1891). A prominent figure in the early history of Central Park, Hutchins served as one of its first administrators. In addition to his pivotal role in the park, he left his mark as a lawyer, congressman, and assemblyman.

Stretching at 27 feet wide and standing at four feet tall, this monument holds the distinction of being the largest bench in Central Park. Nestled on the East Side at 73rd Street, this masterpiece was sculpted by the renowned Piccirilli Brothers.

Waldo Hutchins: The Visionary Behind Central Park

Hutchins was an integral part of the inaugural Central Park Board of Commissioners. This esteemed group of civic leaders undertook the Herculean task of overseeing the design, construction, and operations of the park. In 1932, as a touching tribute to his father's legacy, Hutchins' son bequeathed this monument to Central Park.

Artistry and Inscriptions

While the bench is the handiwork of the Piccirilli Brothers, the accompanying sundial is a creation of the American sculptor Paul Manship. Adding depth to this monument are two poignant Latin inscriptions. There are two inscriptions on the monument. One reads "Vivas oportet si vis tibi vivere", derived from the Roman philosopher Seneca, translates to "One must live for another if he wishes to live for himself”; the other is a quote from the poet Orazio (Libro III, ode 30), which translated should read like this:

I have raised a monument more enduring than bronze

and loftier than the regal peak of the pyramids,

which neither the corroding rain nor wild wind

can ever tear down, nor the immeasurable series of years

and the flight of time.

I shall not wholly die, and a great part of me

will escape the grave; I shall grow ever fresh,

forever renewed by the praise of future generations.

The sundial, guarding the rear of the bench, bears the inscription "Ne diruatur fuga temporum". This translates to "Let it not be destroyed by the passage of time", a timeless adage with mysterious origins.

So, the next time you find yourself amidst the beauty of Central Park, take a moment to sit, reflect, and appreciate the rich history behind the Hutchins Bench.

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