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 50 Close Knit Close Knit: Meet the weavers keeping traditional Egyptian tapestrymaking alive. Arts & Culture Issue 50 The Old Gays Inside a Californian TikTok “content house” of a very different stripe. Arts & Culture Issue 50 New Roots The Palestinian art and agriculture collective sowing seeds of community. Arts & Culture Issue 50 Angela Trimbur An all-out tour de force. Arts & Culture Issue 50 Peace & Quiet In the UK, a centuries-old Quaker meeting house encourages quiet reflection. Arts & Culture Issue 50 Free Wheelers On the road with London’s Velociposse Cycling Club.