Manhattanhenge: A Beloved NYC Phenomenon

Manhattanhenge has become almost as world famous as New York City itself over the past years. If the name doesn’t ring a bell and you are wondering what it might actually be, here’s a little insight. The name Manhattanhenge is inspired by Stonehenge: the circle of stones in England which are believed to have been built to align with the sun’s movement. During Manhattanhenge, Manhattan’s street grid aligns with the sun to create a beautiful spectacle.

The street grid in Manhattan doesn’t perfectly run north-south and east-west because – everything is rotated roughly 29-degrees clockwise due to the way the city was planned & designed. There are two days in May and July on which the sun shines through its grid as it sets at a 32-degree angle (north of true west). This means that a few weeks before and after the solstice, the sun sets at a favorable angle to Manhattan’s grid, setting the scene for a spectacular phenomenon.

Manhattanhenge is the island’s most photogenic day and you will notice people descending upon 14th, 23rd, 42nd & 57th Streets to catch a glimpse of or photograph this spectacular phenomenon. The city feels surreal during these moments as everyone turns westward to observe the sunset. It’s a beautiful moment worth witnessing at least once in your life time.

But while Manhattanhenge focuses on Manhattan, the other boroughs also offer their own dramatic sunsets or “Mini-henges”. So, if you happen to be visiting New York at a different time of the year, you can still witness spectacular sunsets. Using the online tool at NYCHenge, you can calculate where a “Mini-henge” will happen in NYC throughout the year. In the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Greenpoint, East Williamsburg and Bed-Stuy, for example, the best time to watch the sunset is at the beginning of October. Check out this nifty tool to see where you can catch beautiful sunsets throughout New York City while you’re here:

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