A Secret of Grand Central

Pssst, want to hear a secret? Grand Central has an AMAZING whispering gallery. Here’s how it works…

You walk to the corridor outside the famous Oyster Bar & Restaurant. You’ll see four low arches, built by a father and son back in 1913…

If you and a friend stand at diagonal corners of the arches (so you’re the farthest apart you can be), and whisper softly, you’ll be able to HEAR each other–as clearly as if you were whispering into each other’s ears!

It’s like magic! “The voice actually follows the curvature of the ceiling,” says urban historian Justin Ferate. It’s called “telegraphing.”

Of course, on our way to dinner last weekend, Alex and I had to try it…

And it worked! Such a rad (and romantic) little trick.

Fun fact: My friend’s husband proposed here! How cute is that?!

P.S. Cup of Jo Guide to NYC, including a secret playground and secret restaurant.

  1. This is super cute! I love NYC but the restrooms are horrible! Now, I use a urine funnel so there’s no worries!

  2. Hi Jo,
    A couple things – 1) Alex looks like he’s taking a wee in his photo. 2) Wouldn’t it be sweet if someone proposed this way – by whispering into the corners of the arches.

  3. That’s so adorable! What a unique place to propose!

  4. Wow such an amazing trick! Thats awesome!


  5. We have an “echo circle” at Louisiana State University’s campus- if you stand in the middle of it, you can hear yourself echo (but no one else can). Apparently this technology was built in based on JFK’s discovery of a place in the White House where you can hear entire conversations down the hall! This sounds like the same stuff! Very, very cool.

  6. The very first time I visited NYC, my friend took me there right away! I love it. I go back (and introduce someone else to it!) every time I visit New York.

  7. I love that dress,but love the romantic proposal story even better :-)

  8. I have the sleeveless version of that dress!

  9. oh my gosh, i love it. that’d be adorable to get a propsal in :)

  10. I’ve never heard about this! Thank you so much for revealing the secret! haha
    I have to try it now :) And I think it’s such an amazing and romantic idea for the proposal!

    xoxo Olga

  11. Jen says...

    Love the dress! I have the sleeveless version :)

  12. ha ha just seeing everyone’s comments about peeing now

  13. This is so cool, in the pics you all look like you’re going for a pee, ha ha.

  14. I always thought that’d be such a fun way/place to propose! Love it

  15. How interesting and fun! If I’m lucky enough to go to New York in the future I will remember this!

    And that dress is fab!

  16. What a fun little secret in NYC! The only thing more fun than the actual location, I’m sure are the secrets being whispered on a daily basis!

  17. Definitely need to do this with the hubs next time we’re at Grand Central! There’s a whispering wall in King’s Park, Perth where I used to live. I took the hubs there and we sat there whispering to each other for longer than we care to admit! :)

  18. Mariana in Paris says...

    Great post, Jo! Plus, yes, I also think Alex looks like he is having a sneaky wee – and, yes, I immediately bought that Anthropologie dress! Looks fab on you!

  19. wow! I was just in NY a few months ago too- wish I had known about this. this is a must do next time I am there :)

    xoxo bun.

  20. Kelly R says...

    Haha, I took a date here once. He never knew about it and was so impressed.

  21. so cute! i LOVE this.

  22. Rebecca says...

    Could you please do some posts on well being/how you stay slim/ beauty/ hair tips? :)

  23. Hahahahahaha. I´m laughing out loud here!! I´ve tried it with my husband and brother and it works like magic. It´s so so fun how you whisper (realloy whisper) on one side and it can be heard on the other side…It was as fun goofy moment of ours when we completely ignored the others who passed by and cracked ourselves up really loud!! We´re from Brazil by the way…

  24. what a cool date idea, love that you and alex still go on romantic, cute dates.
    p.s. love that anthro dress, been coveting it for ages.

  25. I have been walking through the famous corridors of Grand Central since I was young and no one – not one single person has let me in on this secret!!! This is awesome!! I feel like a little kid – I cant wait to do this!!


  26. That’s so amazing! And what a romantic way to propose. Oh, and I love your dress!Happy Thanksgiving!

  27. I love arches. What is it that makes them so aesthetically pleasing?

  28. Anonymous says...

    GORGEOUS dress! I gasped when I saw it.

  29. jane says...

    this is the coolest thing ever! and so bizarre because i saw this just yesterday in the film ‘arthur’ and wondered whether it did in fact exist!

  30. Woooow…. I wish I could go to New York…. I’ll try to memorize it, just in case, if someday I manage to go to a holiday in NY

  31. Oh, that is SO romantic! I remember seeing it in ‘Friends with Benefits’. Didn’t know it actually existed until then though. But why did the father and son build it?

    Thanks for sharing!

    Maria xx

  32. You can do this in the US capitol’s Rotunda too! Fun little unknown fact…John Quincy Adams used to sit at his desk with books piled high around him and close his eyes. Everyone thought he was sleeping but were amazed by all Adams was able to accomplish. Turns out, this same “telegraphing” effect was in place and Adams could hear the opposing party’s dealings and would later swoop in and break them up to his advantage. He recorded these dealings in his books and on his death bed asked his son to burn them, however, his son did not and thats how we know this today! Cool, huh?!

  33. Too bad it makes it look like everyone is peeing in the corner! LOL!

    Very cute though, in all honesty. Gotta get my a$$ to NY!

  34. I saw your dress and knew where you had gotten it. I’ve had my eye on it! Love it!

  35. thats pretty awesome!

  36. So cool, there is one in the U.S. Capitol too! You both look so dapper on your way to dinner, love it!

  37. Love it! The playfulness makes this rural living mama want to bring my children to the big city. The dress is dynamite on you Jo, really fabulous.

  38. Anonymous says...

    Amazing place to propose. I want to try this whispering gallery.

  39. I’m going to try this next time I’m in New York!

  40. You can also do this in Bologna, Italy, in Piazza Maggiore :-) <3

  41. This is so nice, and to propose there is genius :)

  42. A movie that I like, the central station in that place that I use for my wife, a fond memory and a great satisfaction.

  43. Verena says...

    Joanna, you should watch “Arthur” with Russell Brand. In the film he shows a girl around Grand Central (to impress her, obviously) and he also mentions the whispering gallery! It’s a funny and sweet film too!

  44. Fun! I was just thinking how amazing that stripey dress the lady was wearing is. I didn’t even realize it was you! Love that dress!

  45. How fun and romantic! That is such a sweet spot to propose. I will have to try that trick someday soon! :)

  46. As soon as I read the first sentence I thought, ‘that would be such a rad proposal idea!’ Your friend’s fiancee is so smart! And romantic.

  47. I was just in NYC last month AND grand central…this is completely brilliant, Jo!!
    The proposal sounds adorable.

  48. A proposal there is SO cute! I used to do this with my friends in high school. I still love it and used to (boozily) show my colleagues when we were heading to the train after happy hour.

  49. That’s my favorite thing to do in Grand Central! Well, that and get a piece of cheesecake from downstairs.

  50. thank you, immaculate!! so sweet;) and alex totally does look like he’s peeing, hilarious.

  51. how cool! i’ll have to try this the next time i come to visit my sister…..

  52. Joanna! You are so cool! We have so much in common. You used to write comments on my blog! I miss them. I will try to write a better blog and keep it updated.

  53. ahh the beauty of curved/domed ceilings ;)

  54. I did this with my friend Zach once and have since seen so many people do it, but at the time I thought, Surely he is messing with me and I look like a crazy lunatic!

  55. I can’t help but also say that you look so so amazing in that dress. Oh wow, I would kill for your figure. So gorgeous. Rock it, girl!

    Also, this is one of the most amazing things I have ever heard, and I can’t wait to try it out when I finally visit New York. That proposal story is lovely.

    There are a few places in the world that would just be the perfect places to propose, and I think this might be one of the them (but that could be the nerd in me talking too :))

  56. Teehee! I thought you all looked like you were peeing, too – especially the guys. :)

  57. I remember seeing something similar in the movie National Treasure. But, do only you two hear each other? Because in the movie (not sure of the location) the whole room can hear what you’re whispering. Wish I could visit New York!

  58. yes! I love it. I actually had to photograph this corner when I was freelancing for a travel company. Nerd Alert: When I was in college I was an intern on capitol hill one summer for a congressman and as part of the summer intern thing we gave tours to constituents who were visiting DC…the Capitol Building has a similar whispering corner! It was so cool that the place was always SO crowded but we could hear each other on opposite sides.

  59. alex *kind of* looks like he’s peeing. but that’s ok! it’s still really cute!

  60. neat! will check it out next time i’m in nyc.

    PS. fabulous dress!


  61. I recently brought my 8 year old nephew here when he was visiting me. SUCH a fun, free, and sweet thing to do with a little visitor!

  62. Love your dress! I saw it in a window and it now escapes me where but you wear it so well. It caught my eye bc I wished it came in a maternity version. It would be the only time I could wear it I think. My mid-section has never been stellar but when I’m pregnant I can get away with all the things I normally can’t! lol!

  63. that is so cute that he proposed there!

  64. Hello, I loved my visit to Grand Central Station, so much to see.x

  65. That’s amazing!! Love the dress, too.

  66. Anonymous says...

    You can do this at Union Terminal — a gorgeous,old, art deco train station — in Cincinnati, too!

  67. I knew this secret! So cool! I’ve actually been to Grand Central Station and done this! :)


  68. So cool! I love the whispering gallery in St. Paul’s in London, it really is magical!

    And I love your striped dress here too!

  69. sarah says...

    So cute! But Alex looks like he’s peeing in the corner of Grand Central Station.

  70. Oh, how cool!

  71. Anonymous says...

    The “whispering wall” is an architectural technique that was really popular in the Glided Age post Reconstruction in the States. They can be found in bench form in NY and Philadelphia has quite a few too, where 2 people can sit at either end of the stone semi-circle bench and have that same whisper effect. It is really fun esp for kids and lovers!

  72. so cool, if you’re ever in london & visit st paul’s cathedral, that also has a whispering gallery, very neat x

  73. I have Anthropologie’s dress selection open in another browser right now! Love your dress!

  74. Another thing to love about grand central! Besides a great bookstore and magnolia cupcakes in the basement :)

  75. So nifty! My husband and I finally tried it out this summer. We couldn’t stop giggling for some reason :) Love your dress btw!

  76. How incredible. I’m coming to NY on Sunday (for 10 days :)) so will definitely have some fun testing this out.

  77. what a great idea. Must try it when and if I ever go to NY. x

  78. What a cool thing! Now I can’t wait to travel to NYC again to try it out. Love the idea of using it for a proposal, too! And of course, LOVE the dress!

  79. Susan says...

    Same thing in the U.S. Capitol…lotsa fun.

  80. I know that dress–it’s from Anthropologie! Looks awesome on you!

    And cool trick, too. :)

  81. anonymous from norway–two other great places to stay in NYC are the upper west side, upper east side pretty neighborhoods and both by lots of museums and cultural activities. xoxo hope that helps!

  82. Ah this is amazing. I love it.

  83. Confession, I’ve always wanted to be proposed to here :) adorable, but I’d feel bad telling my bf what to do specifically. I’d rather have a surprise!

  84. so cool! i LOVE your dress! i was thinking i had to know where you got it and as i scrolled i thought, i bet she’ll tell us at the end of the post. you know your readers too well!

  85. First – I love your dress!!! Second, I so wish I lived in New York! How cool is that whispering gallery?!

  86. Love the dress! Go anthropology !

  87. What a cute way to propose!

  88. That is such a romantic little trick. I totally want to try it next time I’m in New York. Btw: Love your dress, Joanna. Happy Tuesday!

  89. Anonymous says...

    Hi Joanna:)
    I’m a norwegian girl currently planning a trip to New York for next year. I have seen in a previous posting, you recommend to stay in areas such as west village and greenwich village. Do you have any other recommendations of good areas for hotels?
    Greetings from Norway;)

  90. We love showing out-of-towners this trick! It’s so much fun. Also . . . those photos crack me up because . . . they could be misconstrued (at least when it’s a boy!)! Love the dress!

  91. Funny story, my husband (then boyfriend) had tried to propose in that exact spot! But I was too hungry and tired from walking around the city that I said, “No there is no such thing as a whisper spot, let’s go eat!” So instead, he proposed an hour later on the top of the Empire State Building. =)

  92. Cute pictures, especially your dress! There’s a scene in the new Arthur movie where they do this on their date.

  93. wow! soooo dreamy :)i hope to visit this spot someday

  94. I did this on a field trip with my students! I love when simple pleasures dazzle high-schoolers.

  95. thanks for the sweet comments on my dress — it’s new from Anthropologie and it’s super flattering. in fact, i got it after reading like 40 online reviews saying how flattering it was :)

  96. i love that your friends husband proposed here! how sweet and romantic.

    and VA VA VOOM miss joanna! you look gorgeous in that dress.

  97. haha my boyfriend did this to me a couple of months ago everyone around laughed with me hehe

  98. Oh! My husband took me to one of these in Fairmount Park in Philadelphia on one of our first dates! Now we always test out places where we think a whisper wall might exist

  99. rocking the dress! and i thought it looked a bit like everyone was peeing, as well. hee!

  100. VERY cool. Thanks for sharing!

  101. Anonymous says...

    Ooh, so Harry Potteresque!

  102. this was in the movie Arthur!

  103. I had never heard of that, but I love it! What an incredibly romantic proposal!

  104. Yes! It’s so neat. And once you know you notice other people doing it all the time.

  105. your dress is beautiful and SO flattering! Can’t wait to try this trick out next time we visit New York!

  106. How cool! I’m definitely going to try that next time when I’m town!

  107. kaela d. says...

    oh how amazing! I saw this in an indie film and I didn’t know it was actually real :) I wish I had known when I visited….I guess I have to go back now (maybe with a cute guy!) ;)

    ps. you are such a picturesque couple. love it!

  108. We’ve tried it too… but it’s hard to pay attention to anything else but how fab you look in that Anthro dress!

  109. WOW! That is really cool.

  110. I have a friend who goes to Manhattanville College and visited him with his girlfriend around last new years and he took me to this, it was amazing!

  111. That’s a neat trick, but I can’t help but think that you look like you’re peeing in the corner. Sorry!

  112. Christina, I thought the same thing! I totally want to go see this though. :)

  113. TOTALLY christina! haha,i said the same thing to alex — especially with that “restrooms” sign.

  114. Aw, I love that. What a New York moment. It needs to be featured in a film, pref directed by Woody Allen. x

  115. Shut up, look at your sassy hourglass shape in that Anthro dress! Oh and cool trick too :) xoxo

  116. It looks like you are all peeing in the corner haha. But very cute idea. I found something similar in the Wash DC’s Capitol.


  117. That’s awesome and so interesting!


  118. Anonymous says...

    Love the Anthropoligie dress. I’ll have to try that next time I’m in NY!

  119. This is the cutest thing! I never knew about this. Do you know why the father and son created this? P.S. love that dress!