There are 9,485 benches at Central Park. Almost half of them are more than simply places to sit, they’re stories of the people and the place. One can purchase a plaque for $10,000 and make a permanent dedication on a single bench as well as a donation to the maintenance of the park. By looking at the plaques of Central Park, one can get a good idea at the essence of the Park. However, just because some voices are represented, doesn’t mean that the other voiceless visitors don’t make their mark on the space as well.

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Plaque bench dedications are available at all of the public parks in New York and are a direct donation to the maintenance of that specific park. Because the plaques are most popular in parks that are well maintained, those parks continue to receive funding in the form of donations while the less funded parks continue to suffer. The Adopt-a-Park program aggravates the significant disparity in maintenance between the city’s best and worst parks. The cycle of park neglect continues, leaving many low-income New Yorkers living in a park desert.

Homelessness in New York City has reached the highest levels since the Great Depression of the 1930s. Each night thousands of unsheltered homeless people sleep on New York City streets, in the subway system, and in other public spaces. There is no accurate measurement of New York City’s unsheltered homeless population, and recent City surveys significantly underestimate the number of unsheltered homeless New Yorkers. The large majority of street homeless New Yorkers are people living with mental illness or other severe health problems. Black and Hispanic/Latinx New Yorkers are disproportionately affected by homelessness.

$10,000 is the price for a Central Park bench plaque dedication. Other bench park donations range from $2,500- $10,00. One can purchase a granite stone dedication from Tompkins Square Park for $250.