Tag Archives: Manhattanhenge


By Vladimir Brezina

Without the frame, there woudn’t be a Manhattanhenge.

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A contribution to this week’s Photo Challenge, Frame.

City Sunset Silhouettes

By Vladimir Brezina

In the middle of the city, you don’t see the horizon. Well before sunset, the sun dips behind a dark palisade of silhouettes

Central Park sunset 1
Central Park sunset 2
Central Park sunset 3

To see the sun touch the horizon, you must climb very high

Manhattan vista at sunset

or, down below, wait for a very special day

Manhattanhenge 500(Manhattanhenge 2014)

Or, of course, watch from your kayak on the river!

Hudson River sunset 1
Hudson River sunset 2

A response to this week’s Photo Challenge, Silhouette, and Ailsa’s travel-themed photo challenge, Horizons.

Celebrity Sun

By Johna Till Johnson
Photos by Vladimir Brezina

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In Manhattan we get our share of celebrities. Some live here year-round. Many zoom by in a blaze of flashbulbs and applause.

And some show up reliably every day, unapplauded, but make a celebrity entrance a few minutes out of the year. That’s what happens at Manhattanhenge. Twice a year, roughly three weeks before and after the summer solstice, the setting sun lines up precisely with the east-west streets of Manhattan’s street grid.

It’s  a well-known phenomenon, and has become more so with each passing year. Photographers gather at major intersections, awaiting that perfect moment when the sun touches the horizon, framed precisely between buildings on either side. For a moment or two, the sun is a celebrity.

I’ve heard about it, and Vlad has taken pictures of it many times. But this year was the first time I’d actually experienced it.

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Weekly Photo Challenge & Travel Theme: Split-Second Story in the Big City

By Vladimir Brezina

This week’s Photo Challenge is Split-Second Story, and Ailsa’s travel-themed photo challenge is Cities.

A perfect conjunction!

For yesterday and today were days of Manhattanhenge, that urban astronomical phenomenon in which the sun appears, for a brief moment just at sunset, at the ends of the cross-streets of Manhattan’s street grid.

Of course, the sun has to be visible at sunset. Yesterday was cloudy. Today was more promising. So I joined the Manhattanhenge-watching crowd—smaller than usual this year because of the uncertain weather—at 57th Street and Park Avenue. As we waited, a rain shower moved in. (Now I know how astronomers must feel, waiting nervously for that once-in-a-century conjunction or eclipse, only to have clouds move in at the last minute…)

But just at the moment of sunset, the sun appeared through the mist!  I got a few photos.

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But the visibility was not ideal, and in addition I realized only too late that at the end of 57th Street there is a big building, across the Hudson in New Jersey, that blocks the view! As another photographer standing next to me remarked, Jersey always screws things up…

The spectacle was much more impressive last year at 42nd Street:

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… and in 2011 at 34th Street:

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But there’s always another chance—Manhattanhenge repeats on July 11th and 12th!

Weekly Photo Challenge: One

By Vladimir Brezina

This week’s Photo Challenge is One.

The One.

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Manhattanhenge, May 29, 2013.

Weekly Photo Challenge: The Golden Hour

By Vladimir Brezina

This week’s Photo Challenge is The Golden Hour.

DSC_0265 cropped smallWhen I saw this week’s theme, I thought, how timely! For today (and tomorrow) is the second round of this year’s Manhattanhenge, the culmination of a very special golden hour in Manhattan. (Here are the photos from the first round of Manhattanhenge in May, and from 2011.) And I was going to urge all New Yorkers reading this post to go and see it. And even-out-of towners—you’ve still got a few hours to get on that plane so as to be in Manhattan by 8: 23 PM EDT ;-)

Unfortunately, a solid overcast, with occasional showers and thunderstorms, is forecast for both today and tomorrow. Indeed, as I write this, the rain is already beginning.

It will be a wash.

So, instead, here is another golden hour that I remember fondly.

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It was last summer, during our kayak circumnavigation of Long Island. We were camped at the easternmost point of Long Island, at Montauk, in a grove of trees that faced the rising sun. The light that flooded our camp that morning was truly golden. And equally golden was the extra hour of sleep that we allowed ourselves that morning after our exertions of the day before

Two more golden hours are here and here.

Manhattanhenge 2013

By Vladimir Brezina

Manhattanhenge is the phenomenon for which, future archeologists might well conclude, the rectangular street grid of Manhattan was built.  As Neil deGrasse Tyson, the astronomer who has spread the word about Manhattanhenge, writes:

What will future civilizations think of Manhattan Island when they dig it up and find a carefully laid out network of streets and avenues? Surely the grid would be presumed to have astronomical significance, just as we have found for the pre-historic circle of large vertical rocks known as Stonehenge, in the Salisbury Plain of England. For Stonehenge, the special day is the summer solstice, when the Sun rises in perfect alignment with several of the stones, signaling the change of season.

For Manhattan, a place where evening matters more than morning, that special day comes twice a year. For 2013 they fall on May 28th, and July 13th, when 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. A rare and beautiful sight. These two days happen to correspond with Memorial Day and Baseball’s All Star break. Future anthropologists might conclude that, via the Sun, the people who called themselves Americans worshiped War and Baseball.

So Manhattanhenge proper—when half of the sun’s disk would have appeared on the horizon at the end of the cross streets at sunset—was actually yesterday, May 28th. But it was cloudy. And anyway, from Midtown Manhattan it’s not really possible to keep the sun in sight as it sinks all the way down to the horizon. New Jersey is in the way.

But today, May 29th, the full disk of the sun was to appear at the end of the cross streets at sunset. Even better!

Two years ago I observed Manhattanhenge from 34th Street. Today, for a change, I went to 42nd Street.

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The venue: 42nd Street

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Photographers gather

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That’s where it will happen

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Here it comes!

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It’s going to be good!

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Excitement mounts ;-)

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The magic moment

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Crowds worship the setting Sun on 42nd Street

Weekly Photo Challenge: Through

By Vladimir Brezina

This week’s Photo Challenge is Through.

Crowds of photographers gather as the magic moment draws near. What are they waiting for?

It’s Manhattanhenge! On two days in the year, for a brief moment before it sinks below the horizon, the setting sun is perfectly aligned with the cross-streets of Manhattan’s rectangular street grid and sends its last golden rays straight through its canyons…

These photos are from the first occurrence of Manhattanhenge last year, on May 30, 2011. More photos are here and here.

This year’s magic days will be May 29 and July 12!


Some other nice interpretations of “Through” I’ve seen:

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.

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