Manhattanhenge, Memorial Day 2011

By Vladimir Brezina

The prehistoric stone circle at Stonehenge contains stones that are perfectly aligned with the rising sun at the summer solstice.  So, too, in Manhattan.  On two days in the year, for a brief moment before it sinks below the horizon, the setting sun shines straight down the cross-streets of Manhattan’s rectangular street grid.  This is Manhattanhenge, a phenomenon eagerly awaited, as it turns out, by many. (There are also two days in the year when the rising sun appears at the other end of the cross-streets, but nobody wants to wait for sunrise in the depths of winter…)

Yesterday, May 30, was the first of the two special days of 2011.  Never having seen Manhattanhenge before, I went to investigate.

The scene: 34th Street and Park Avenue

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What I did not expect were the enthusiastic crowds of photographers.  Already half an hour before sunset, photographers wielding everything from cell phones to huge telephoto lenses on tripods spread out across the street, facing west, every time the traffic light turned red.

Excuse me! …

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… I am trying to take a picture here!

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As the magic moment approached, the excitement grew…

The money shot

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Then, finally, the half-disk of the setting sun appeared  huge and yellow exactly at the end of 34th Street, seemingly just behind the buildings of Weehawken across the river. It hung there for an instant, then sank below the horizon as the cameras clicked away.

That was it! The cameras were put away, the crowds dispersed, leaving just the sunset afterglow.

If you missed it, there will be another performance on July 12… (however, the full, rather than the half, sun on the grid can also be seen tonight on May 31, and again on July 11).

All of Vlad’s photos of Manhattanhenge are here.

22 responses to “Manhattanhenge, Memorial Day 2011

  1. So now I know what that crazy guy was doing taking pics in the middle of 6th Avenue yesterday!

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  3. Wow. This collection of shots makes me want to go there for the next special setting of the sun!

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    • Coming up soon—book your plane ticket! It’s something special to Manhattan (actually, presumably any city with a rectangular street grid).

      On the other hand, we don’t have your kangaroos and koalas, which I’ve never seen… :-)

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  5. i would never have guessed that one. i thought it was a parapente or parachute coming down in a tight place! Z

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  6. Amazing… Wonderful photos!
    Is this always happening at the same dates every year?

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  7. Great One! love the scenes very much.. :D

    Like

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