There are more than 7,000 memorial benches in Central Park, each bearing a plaque dedicated to a loved one dearly departed. These small, discreet public memorials have been a feature of New York’s most famous park since 1986, and reflect our changing relationship with death. In the 18th century, when mortality rates were high, the dead were remembered with austere gravestones decorated with skulls and hourglasses—memento mori—to symbolize how much death was a part of everyday life. Today, as life spans increase, these morbid Victorian totems have decreased; there is more emphasis on celebrating someone’s life and achievements, rather than just marking the fact they are gone. This story is from Kinfolk Issue Forty-Three Buy Now Related Stories Arts & Culture Issue 43 Paapa Essiedu The British stage star steps onto a new platform. Arts & Culture Issue 43 Amia Srinivasan Amia Srinivasan on the philosophy of sex. Arts & Culture Issue 43 David Erritzoe On the mind-bending potential of psychedelics. Arts & Culture Issue 43 Space Invaders Room dividers from a Roman studio. Arts & Culture Issue 43 Study: Tricks of the Mind The cognitive processing errors that shape us all. Arts & Culture Issue 43 Happy Medium In praise of average.