I first noticed this serendipitously, while waiting for a bus and staring sullenly into the sky. I didn't realize that it's a well-documented and well-loved phenomenon. Twice a year, at dusk but before sunset, the Sun neatly matches up with Manhattan's even-numbered streets running west and east, sending out fingers of light. It's called "Manhattanhenge." Since the primary streets of Manhattan’s street grid are about 30 degrees east of geographic north, the "-henge" event doesn't coincide with the equinox.

Here are the remaining 2012 Manhattanhenge dates for 2012:

Half-sun on the grid:
Tuesday, May 29 - 8:17 p.m.
Thursday, July 12 - 8:25 p.m.

Full-sun on the grid:
Wednesday, May 30 - 8:16 p.m.
Wednesday, July 11 - 8:24 p.m.
A "reverse" version of Manhattanhenge occurs at sunrise on or about December 5th and January 8th, depending on the exact date of the winter solstice.

Naturally, prime viewing spots have been identified, essentially you go as far east as you can, to stand looking West on an open crosstown street. Recommended cross streets include 14th, 23rd, 34th. 42nd, 57th, and several streets adjacent to them. Obviously if you're up at dawn in the dead of winter to see the "henge" at sunrise, do look East.

This is a delightful thing to see, obviously you wouldn't plan a trip just to look at a setting sun, but if you're planning to be in New York towards the end of this May, or in mid-July, keep Manhattanhenge in mind.



  1. Hi, Lane! this has become, well, not quite a gala event, but it does draw quite a few people and their cameras, and it's free, and you don't need tickets, and you don't need a telescope, and you really do see something enormous as opposed to staying up all night to look for faraway meteors. I wouldn't especially schedule a trip around it, but it's good to keep in mind.

  2. I used to live in Midtown "far East" and I still remember those days when the phenomenon surprised me walking home from the office. It's pretty magical, one of those things that make it worthy to live in NY

  3. Ema, the first time I noticed it, I couldn't understand why other people were walking right on and going about their business.


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