Manhattanhenge returns to New York City’s grid this weekend

July 9, 2020

Photo via d26b73 on Flickr

Despite all of the life changes New Yorkers are currently grappling with, some things remain the same. The annual magic of Manhattanhenge has officially returned, bringing a much-needed moment of zen to the city. Twice a year the sunset aligns perfectly with Manhattan’s street grid, providing a picture-perfect glow radiating between two skyscrapers. As first reported by Gothamist, the phenomenon took place on May 30, with the second event happening on July 12.

The idea of Manhattanhenge, created by astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, is a play on “Stonehenge,” the circle of stone in England built to align with the sun’s movement. The grid of Manhattan doesn’t run perfectly north-south and east-west because everything is rotated roughly 29 degrees clockwise.

During the summer solstice, the sun will set about 32 degrees north of true west. This means a few weeks before and after the solstice, the sun sets at the same angle as Manhattan’s grid, 29 degrees north of true west.

Experts say the best NYC streets to view the event are at east-west cross streets, including 14th, 23rd, 34th, 42nd, and 57th Streets. Be sure to maintain social distance from others and wear a mask if you plan on checking out Manhattanhenge this summer.

The sunset Manhattanhenge dates and times for 2020 are as follows:

  • Friday, May 29th at 8:13 p.m. (half sun)
  • Saturday, May 30th at 8:14 p.m. (full sun)
  • Saturday, July 11th at 8:20 p.m. (half sun)
  • Sunday, July 12th at 8:21 p.m. (half sun)

While it’s the best known ‘henge,’ Manhattanhenge is not the only grid-aligning sunset event in the city. Mini henges occur for every sunset throughout the year, since most NYC neighborhoods have their own street grid pattern. As 6sqft previously learned, the East Bronx and Crown Heights, two neighborhoods that run nearly exactly east to west, are the best to watch the sunset on the first day of autumn and spring.

[Via Gothamist]


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