The Whispering Gallery, New York, NY

The Whispering Gallery, Grand Central Station, New York City

It goes against the crowd to stand still in New York's Grand Central Station but if you stop for a minute in the right spot you might find a little bit of magic. Underneath the main concourse, on the way to the historic Oyster Bar, there’s a special place known as The Whispering Gallery where the faintest murmur can be heard 40 feet away across the busy passageway.

There are no signs to the Whispering Gallery but look for a place where two walkways intersect, and a vaulted roof forms a shallow dome. Look up and admire the herringbone terra cotta tiles - designed by Rafael Guastavino and Son and found in some of New York's finest buildings. Take a friend or sweetheart and pick diagonal corners. Then turn your faces to the wall and start talking. It feels a little odd at first, but even though you’re a long way away you should hear every word.

The phenomenon is fairly common, usually found beneath domes or ellipsoid surfaces. Sound "telegraphs" along the line of the curve to reach the other side. Other famous examples are found in St Paul's Catherdal in London and St Peter's Basilica in Rome. I've tried things like this before and stood talking to myself like an idiot, but this one definitely works. It's a popular spot for marriage proposals - word has it jazz legend Charles Mingus proposed here. It can get busy so pick your moment carefully to avoid embarrasment. If he/she says yes, head straight to the Oyster Bar and celebrate in style. It also has Guastavino ceilings so be careful where you whisper your sweet nothings if you don't want the whole place to hear.

How to get there

Grand Central Terminal, to give it its proper name, is at 101 42nd Street, New York. Google map. To find the gallery go downstairs from the main concourse towards the dining concourse and follow signs to the Oyster Bar. The Whispering Gallery is right outside the entrance where the ramp from 42nd Street crosses the way.


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