Whisper From The Walls

by C. Fox Collins

In the Parkside area of West Philadelphia there is a special place in Fairmount Park, nestled between the Philadelphia Zoo and the Please Touch Museum, and just down the street from the Mann Music Center. The history you find there speaks about an interesting time in Philadelphia and American history.

Unfinished_Smith_Memorial_Arch_circa_1905_LOC_4a12601v
A look at the unfinished arches as they existed in  1905.

The Smith Memorial Arch was built near the turn of the twentieth century. Various artists contributed to the creation of this memorial. It was built in remembrance of Pennsylvania’s Civil War Heroes. The civil war was a time of great tumult in our nation. It was a time when families were torn apart by slavery and war. It was also a time when a collision between the past and the future brought our country to its knees.

When the monument was built, Fairmount Park was considered part the suburbs of Philadelphia. And it wasn’t called Fairmount Park. That distinction would come later. Fairmount Park came into being and grew, as the need to protect the water supply grew.

Whispering Walls sits at the base of the Smith Memorial Arch. The walls are half circles separated by the street that divides them. People come to the walls to talk. Or rather listen to each other. There conversations occur between people who sit thirty to forty feet away from one another.

“Close your eyes and speak. It’s as if the person you’re talking to is right there, sitting next to you”, says Sylvia Kim, {a visitor from Pittsburgh, PA}; she continues by saying, “it’s such a pleasure in the park”. The sound is carried by waves traveling around the circle. It makes for a fun experience. So the next time you ride through Fairmount Park, stop, look and listen to the whispers from the walls.

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