Four times a year, the setting sun aligns with the Manhattan street grid and creates a steel image that resembles the Stonehenge in England.
New York sees many beautiful sunsets each year, but this one is special: During the so-called Manhattanhenge, the sun sets on the east-to-west street grid of Manhattan, offering a glimpse of the sunset from Queens all the way through to New Jersey. Hundreds of spectators line the Midtown streets and the East River boardwalks to witness the perfect sunset. Some photographers even camp out on the most popular spots from early afternoon and don’t care that they might block intersections and overpasses.
Unlike Stonehenge, whose construction served as a calendar to show the time of summer solstice, the New York version does not coincide with the equinoxes. The city’s street grid is arranged 30 degrees east from geographic north, shifting the days of Manhattanhenge to two days in the end of May and mid-July respectively. Since the golden hour is moving constantly, a full Manhattanhenge occurs only on the first of these above mentioned two days, with the entire sun visible during sunset. A half-sun can be seen on the grid the following day.
Now, what’s the place to be during Manhattanhenge? One option is to stay in Manhattan, looking down west at one of the numbered streets. The most popular ones are 34th and 42nd Streets – with the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building providing the most impressive framework for the setting sun. The other option is venturing out to Brooklyn or Queens. In fact, the further east you position yourself, the more spectacular the view.
Even though Manhattanhenge might be the most popular of these urban sunset phenomenons, other cities with a similar street grid experience their own “henges,” too, for example Chicago and Toronto.
Further info on dates and times of Manhattenhenge can be found here.
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Cordula Schaefer is a photography enthusiast who loves to venture out to explore new places and hardly ever leaves the house without a camera. A New Yorker at heart, she is especially fond of city trips and has a soft spot for beautiful beachscapes. She currently bases herself in Berlin and keeps the visual documents of her travels at Cordugram.Tweet