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Manhattanhenge | © Hit1912/Shutterstock
Manhattanhenge | © Hit1912/Shutterstock
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What You Need to Know About Manhattanhenge, New York City's Natural Phenomenon

Picture of Julia Goicochea
Updated: 13 June 2017
There’s no doubt summer in the city is magical, but twice a year, thousands of tourists and locals alike fall under New York’s spell at once. The phenomenon that’s come to be known as “Manhattanhenge” refers to the city’s naturally occurring event when the sunset aligns perfectly with Manhattan’s east-to-west gridded streets.

Named in honor of another natural wonder, Stonehenge, the event is truly a sight to behold. The sun sinks gracefully between New York’s buildings; the city is awash in pink and gold light, and thousands of lucky locals play photographer for Instagram.

Manhattanhenge in New York City, along the 42nd street
Manhattanhenge in New York City, along the 42nd street | © mandritoiu/Shutterstock

However, as our local authority on the phenomenon, the American Museum of Natural History, points out, there’s more to this event than being a perfect photo op. Noting the unlikelihood of a perfect alignment of the sun and any city grid, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson describes Manhattanhenge as being a “unique urban phenomenon in the world, if not the universe.” You can call it a wonder, a miracle, or any other name, but the fact remains that New York City offers a sunset so beautiful that science can’t even explain it!

Manhattanhenge por Paola Martínez

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The dates for summer 2017’s sightings are May 29th and 30th (with picture-perfect positioning occurring at 8:13 pm and 8:12 pm, respectively) as well as July 12th at 8:20 pm and July 13th at 8:21 pm. The museum recommends positioning yourself on Manhattan’s East Side along cross streets such as 14th, 23rd, 34th, 42nd, and 57th for the clearest views of the event. It’s also advised to arrive at least 30 minutes prior to the sun’s setting in order to claim your place before the crowds of sunset-spectators descend. A perfect plan to celebrate Memorial Day, nothing will make you prouder of your country than witnessing a breathtaking sunset over its most famous city.