Honor someone special in your life with a bench in Central Park. Learn more at centralparknyc.org/benches or by calling 212.310.6617.
You may know Phil Rosenthal as the creator of one of TV's most successful sitcoms, Everybody Loves Raymond, but did you know he's also a romantic?
If you walk into the Park at the 7th Avenue entrance along Central Park South, you can find two benches side by side, one with a plaque signed "THE WIFE" and its neighbor signed "THE HUSBAND." Phil and his wife, Monica, have companion benches, and though they no longer live in New York, they make a point of visiting their benches each time they visit.
The couple's history in the Park goes back to 1986, with their first kiss. "It was on a hill by the model boat pond," Phil said. "She attacked me."
Phil's personal relation to the Park goes back to his childhood. Growing up in Queens, with family around the City, the Park has always occupied a place in his life and imagination. "The Park makes New York for me. Without it, Manhattan is an endless grid of city." Phil described the Park as a "respite from the world" and compared it to walking through a living work of art. "It's my favorite place on earth."
Since his 50th birthday, when Monica dedicated the bench to him, Phil's experience of the Park has deepened. "I feel like I'm officially part of the Park now, and like it's officially mine." Phil was delighted to find that the bench next to his was unclaimed, so three years later, he adopted the neighboring bench for Monica's 50th birthday. The benches speak to each other (you can read the inscriptions above), and that dialogue will be preserved in perpetuity as a testament to their love.
Inspired by their benches, Phil said a friend of his adopted a bench for his wife when she passed away. "Now the family has a place of beauty to celebrate her life," Phil said. "Instead of going to a cemetery, they can go to this fantastic, living place to remember her."
Phil and Monica live in California now, but their son began studying at New York University this fall, so the couple is likely to make plenty of visits to the City in the next few years, giving them opportunities to visit their benches, and enjoy what Phil calls his favorite place in the world, Central Park. "The more you delve into the Park and its history, the more awesome it is," Phil said. "It's designed like a movie. Everywhere you look is a beautifully composed shot."