Twice every summer, the setting sun perfectly lines up with New York’s street grid in a phenomenon known as Manhattanhenge. The pictures of the event are so incredible that it’s hard to believe that there’s no photoshop involved!
Last July, I decided I couldn’t call myself a New Yorker until I participated in photographing Manhattanhenge. This was going to be me:
My parents were in town and wanted to see it too, so we headed to 42nd street shortly before sunset. I highly recommend viewing Manhattanhenge on 42nd street. The street is much wider, so the effect is stronger. The other best streets are 14th street, 23rd street, 34th street and 57th street.
You should also be sure to be as far east as possible to have the best experience (and pictures!).
Every time there was a red light, tourists and New Yorkers alike ran into the middle of the street to take pictures. Then, when the light turned green again, we ran back onto the sidewalk as the cars zoomed past. It was practically an extreme sport!
I turned around to take a picture of the crowd, and this guy started waiving his hands in the air. Annoyed, I looked closer to see who was so determined to be the star of the shot. And then I realized… it was my dad. Ha. Hi dad!
Then sun began setting, and we eagerly awaited its alignment with the city grid. Almost there…
And then… the sun went behind a cloud. Nooooo!
Manhattanhenge was a bust! The sun disappeared behind the clouds, and we didn’t end up getting any amazing shots.
It was so disappointing! I vowed that I would try again next year.
Well, Manhattanhenge happened again this past May, and this year, I was ready. I planned on getting there early, and finding a coveted spot on a bridge so I could avoid running in and out of the street and instead focus on getting great pictures.
This year, this was going to be me:
I arrived at 42nd street around 6pm, and settled onto the bridge next to Grand Central. There were already photographers there preparing for the big event, and sunset wasn’t even for several more hours! I still got a good spot, but if you’re super nerdy about Manhattanhenge and want to secure the best possible position, I recommend that you get there at 5pm. Definitely don’t arrive after 6pm if you want to be in the front row on the bridge!
Oh and bring a book with you… you’ll be waiting awhile!
As the evening progressed, more and more people joined us on the bridge. I was glad that I had a spot right in front!
(I’ve been told that I take awkward selfies… clearly that is… incorrect)
Well before 8pm the bridge was so crowded that cars were having a hard time driving past. We take Manhattanhenge very seriously here in New York!
People were gathering on the sides of the street as well, ready to dart out the minute the sun appeared.
Finally, after hours of waiting, Manhattanhenge was about to begin! We waited for it…
Nothing! The evening was too cloudy, so the sun never made its appearance! I was so sad! It was another failed Manhattanhenge!
Don’t worry New Yorkers, Manhattanhenge is happening again this summer on July 11th and 12th, 2016.
July 11th will be a half sun, and July 12th will be a full sun, so July 12th is obviously the best date to see it. Mark your calendars now!
Next time I will be successful! Manhattenhenge, I’m coming for you!