The Kissing Bench

The Kissing Bench on campus

In this month of celebrating love, we visit Syracuse University’s most romantic location: the legendary Kissing Bench. Located between the Hall of Languages and the Tolley Humanities Building, this smooth granite bench was a gift to the University from the Class of 1912. More than 200 students from the graduating class paid a tax to aid the cost of purchasing the bench. Their goal was to inspire a tradition for future classes to make similar gifts that would add to the beauty of campus.

While the tradition of the class gift lasted into the 1950s, the bench also spurred something else: a legend. Although it’s unknown exactly when it began, by the 1940s, the bench was known as the Kissing Bench. According to the Daily Orange, it was believed that “co-eds would kiss on the bench and hope not to grow old as spinsters.” Over time, the legend became that kissing on the bench leads to marriage. Some say that if you sit alone on the bench, you will be alone for life.

The legend is not the only intrigue surrounding the Kissing Bench. According to an article in the March 8, 1912, Daily Orange, when the bench was installed, a copper box was placed in a concrete foundation four feet below. The airtight box contained a copy of the alumni record listing all previous SU students, a commencement day program, the SU seal, and copies of the Daily Orange. When contacted by the Daily Orange in 2012, no one at Syracuse University archives or campus planning, design and construction could confirm whether the box was actually installed or still exists beneath the bench.