Manhattanhenge: how to see the most beautiful sunset in New York?

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Carlos Laforet Coll
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Manhattanhenge: what is it?

The Manhattanhenge is the moment when the sun lines up with the east-west streets of Manhattan. This is also called the solstice de Manhattan.

This event occurs twice a year (in May and July) and over two days. There are two kinds of Manhattanhenge:

  • Le Full Sun on the Grid : when the sun can be seen in full.
  • Le Half Sun on the Grid : when the sun is only half seen.

The Manhattanhenge is therefore a magnificent sunset that you will not soon forget! Indeed, the show is simply magical and it is also one of the most beautiful sunsets of the year! The red-orange lights are eye-catching and at each Manhattanhenge, thousands of people flock to enjoy the spectacle.

But where does the name “Manhattanhenge” come from?

Manhattanhenge is what is called a portmanteau word obtained from the merger of the terms "Manhattan" and "Stonehenge". The first refers to the place where the Manhattanhenge takes place and the second refers to a megalithic monument in England where the sun aligns with the stones at certain times of the year.

When does this famous sunset take place?

In general, the Manhattanhenge takes place twice a year: around May 30 and July 11 between 20 p.m. and 20:30 p.m.

This year Half Sun on the Grid could be seen on May 29 at 20:13 p.m. and Full Sun on the Grid occurred on May 30 at 20:12 p.m. In July, here are the dates and times:

  • Full Sun on the Grid on July 12 at 20:20 p.m.
  • Half Sun on the Grid: July 13 at 20:21 p.m.

Good to know: these dates and times were given by Dr Jackie Faherty, astronomer in the departments of Astrophysics and Education of the American Museum of Natural History.

So if you are in New York for the Manhattanhenge, be sure to take your camera with you to photograph and immortalize this highly anticipated event!

Also read: choose the season that suits you to go to New York.

Where to see it?

To attend this event, you have to go to the streets of the Commissioners' Plan of 1811, especially those going from the 14th Street to Washington Heights District. However, be aware that the best streets to make the most of Manhattanhenge and take great photos are: the 14th, 23rd, 34th and 42nd.

Additional tips for enjoying the show more

  • If 14th, 23rd, 34th and 42nd streets are the most interesting to see Manhattanhenge, know that if you stand at 34th Street, you can also see the Empire State Building. 42nd Street also offers you a nice perspective: on the Chrysler Building.
  • Another place to admire the Manhattanhenge: the Gantry Plaza State Park in the district of Queens; it is right across from 42nd street.
  • If you can, choose the easternmost spot on Manhattan Island; the spectacle will be all the more impressive.
  • Remember to arrive in advance: about 30 minutes before the time indicated by the Natural History Museum, because these times correspond to the time when the sun hits the horizon. So get there early so you don't miss a thing and wait until the end! The sunset between the skyscrapers is also magnificent.
  • Arriving early will give you a better chance of being well placed, as the Manhattanhenge is such a crowd-pleaser event.
  • Do not forget your camera !

Does this event take place at other times of the year?

The answer is yes, when winter solstice. To see it, you have to go to the same streets as the Manhattanhenge and in general, it takes place around December 5 and January 8. So if you're not in New York for the Manhattanhenge, but you're there for the Winter Solstice, rest assured! The spectacle is just as impressive!

If you are lucky enough to be in New York for the Manhattanhenge, mark the dates of this event on your calendar. It would be a shame to miss it! It is the most beautiful sunset in New York and the spectacle is magical!

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