Manhattanhenge is an event that happens when the sun is in the same direction as the street lines in Manhattan.
In Manhattan, roads are built in a grid. Avenues go from north to south, and streets run from west to east. This geometry allows perfect alignment between sun’s trajectory and the lines of the streets.
This phenomenon takes place two times per year, sometime around the summer solstice. The red lights of sunset invade the streets and get reflected in rich nuances by skyscrapers.
This year, the alignment will take place on the 29th and 30th of May, and on 11th and 12th of July. The two events are not that similar – this weekend, during Memorial Day, the sun will look like a half circle. On the other hand, in July people from New York will be able to see a full sun circle.
The street design in Manhattan was created in the 19th century and only incidentally its pattern is aligning with the sun. However, this alignment was a major component in old religious buildings or in the ancient time measuring devices.
The similarity to Stonehenge and other antic constructions brought the name to the event. And just like in Stonehenge, Manhattanhenge happens near the summer solstice.
All over the world, cities with linear street configurations celebrate their Stonehenge-like event. So there is also a Chicagohenge, a Phillyhenge, and a Montrealhenge. But due to the fact that these cities are located differently on the spherical surface of our planet, dates and times of the event differ for each town.
On a more amusing note, people started to say that the future civilizations will discover the architecture of Manhattan and will draw the conclusion that this too was intended to be a worship place.
But as this year the event coincides with Memorial Day and Baseball’s All-Stars, these future civilizations will come to the conclusion that people from Manhattan were worshiping war and baseball.
The sun rises perfectly due east and sets perfectly due west only one time each year – during the equinoxes. But as Manhattan’s streets are not perfectly directed to the cardinal points, the alignment does not occur on the exact day of the equinox.
The best places to observe the phenomenon are all in the eastern part of Manhattan. A special location seems to be Long Island, where a nonprofit organization will host a party dedicated to the event.
Image Source: Flickr