Manhattanhenge Lights the Streets of New York

Don't like to read?


The Manhattanhenge is an event that happens twice a year in the streets of New York City (NYC). It is not the typical event, but rather one that can be viewed with the naked eye between skyscrapers of the setting sun giving way to a picturesque view. According to CNN, the event happens twice a year, one of which was this past Memorial Day. The follow-up event will take place as a two-day spectacle that starts at 8:12 p.m. ET on July 11 and 12, which is Baseball’s All-Star Break.

Come One, Come All

With most attractions in NYC, like the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, the Tribute Center, or the Brooklyn Bridge sightseeing bike tours, the Manhattanhenge is yet another attraction for New York tourists.

The Manhattan streets overflow with crowds ready to snap pictures of the beauty to behold, which is visible between the cities skyscrapers. It seems like a simple concept when one thinks of standing on the street snapping pictures of the sun setting in one’s everyday life, but it is almost as though the architects placed these buildings in just the right place to allow the eye to catch a glimpse into another world, if only for a brief few minutes.

Where Does the Name Come From?

The name Manhattanhenge was coined by an astrophysicist by the name of Neil deGrasse Tyson, who is quoted to say in

… the setting Sun aligns precisely with the Manhattan street grid, creating a radiant glow of light across Manhattan’s brick and steel canyons, simultaneously illuminating both the north and south sides of every cross street of the borough’s grid.

The name also lends itself to the infamous Stonehenge, that of course is the 5,000-year-old rock formation in England. The Stonehenge is also known to align with the sun during the summer solstice. The event is known to be the beginning of the summer season in the Northern Hemisphere. According to CNN, Tyson said that the future anthropologists may come to the conclusion, in lieu of the sun, that people who called themselves Americans can be surmised to have worshiped “War and Baseball.”

Who Is Neil deGrasse Tyson?

Tyson is known as a science communicator and an American astrophysicist. According to Famous Scientists, he is currently the director of the Hayden Planetarium at the Fredrick P. Rose Center for Earth and Space. His passion for astronomy was evident from a young age, when he fell in love with it at the age of 9, after a trip to the Hayden Planetarium. He was also the editor and chief of “Physical Science” at his high school, the Bronx High School of Science, from 1972-1976.

Neil deGrasse Tyson also televised a show in 2004, as reported by Famous Scientists, called “Nova,” which was aired on PBS and had four parts which included: “Origins: Fourteen Billion Years of Cosmic Evolution,” and “400 Years of the Telescope,” and “NOVA ScienceNow,” the programs ended in 2011. It is no wonder that Tyson was the one to coin the phrase, Manhattanhenge, due to his very exponential background in the scientific world.

Click, Click

Click, snap, click do not forget to bring cameras when visiting New York City, not only because capturing memories with loved ones are keepsakes, but because leaving it behind on both, Memorial Day and Baseball’s All-Star Break, would leave the beauty of the Manhattanhenge, just that–a memory.

By Tracy Blake
Edited by Leigh Haugh

CNN: ‘Manhattanhenge’ shines on Memorial Day weekend
New York Pass: NY Pass Holders Get Free Entry to 80+ Attractions in NYC
Famous Scientists: Neil deGrasse Tyson
English Heritage: Stonehenge
Image Courtesy of Wendy’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License