Manhattanhenge — sometimes referred to as the Manhattan Solstice — is a circumstance which occurs twice a year, during which the setting sun aligns with the east–west streets of the main street grid in the borough of Manhattan in New York City. The neologism is derived from Stonehenge, where the sun aligns with the stones on the solstices with a similarly dramatic effect. The word was popularized in 2002 by Neil deGrasse Tyson, an astrophysicist at the American Museum of Natural History. The term applies to those streets that follow the Commissioners' Plan of 1811, which are laid out in a grid offset 29.0 degrees from true east–west. (The 29.0 degrees should be added to true east and west, making the western bearing approximately 299.0 degrees.) During Manhattanhenge, an observer on one of the gridded east-west streets will see the sun setting over New Jersey directly opposite, from the street, along its centerline.
The dates of Manhattanhenge usually occur around May 28 and July 12 or July 13 – spaced evenly around the summer solstice. In 2011, Manhattanhenge occurred on May 31 at 8:17 p.m., and on July 12 (full sun) and 13 (half sun), both at 8:25 p.m. In 2012, it occurred on Tuesday, May 29 at 8:17 p.m. and Thursday, July 12 at 8:25 p.m. (half sun), and on Wednesday, May 30 at 8:16 p.m. and Wednesday, July 11 at 8:24 p.m. (full sun).
The two corresponding mornings of sunrise right on the center lines of the Manhattan grid are approximately December 5 and January 8 – spaced evenly around the winter solstice. As with the solstices and equinoxes, the dates vary somewhat from year to year.
|May 31, 2011||8:17 p.m.||Full sun|
|July 12, 2011||8:25 p.m.||Full sun|
|July 13, 2011||8:25 p.m.||Half sun|
|May 29, 2012||8:17 p.m.||Half sun|
|May 30, 2012||8:16 p.m.||Full sun|
|July 11, 2012||8:24 p.m.||Full sun|
|July 12, 2012||8:25 p.m.||Half sun|
|May 28, 2013||8:16 p.m.||Half sun|
|May 29, 2013||8:15 p.m.||Full sun|
|July 12, 2013||8:23 p.m.||Full sun|
|July 13, 2013||8:24 p.m.||Half sun|
The same phenomenon happens in other cities with a uniform street grid and an unobstructed view of the horizon, with each instance depending on the city's grid plan, surrounding topography and flora (for instance, a city surrounded by hills, mountains or forestry would not experience the effect even if its streets were laid out perfectly). Such occurrences would coincide with the vernal and autumnal equinox only if the grid plan were laid out precisely north-south and east-west, and perfectly aligned with true north as opposed to magnetic north. The situation in Baltimore comes fairly close, with its sunrises on March 25 and September 18 and sunsets on March 12 and September 29. In Chicago, the setting sun lines up with the grid system on September 25 and March 20, a phenomenon known similarly as Chicagohenge. In Toronto, the setting sun lines up with the east–west streets on October 25 and February 16, a phenomenon known locally as Torontohenge. In Montreal, there may be a Montrealhenge each year on July 12.
In popular culture
- The Manhattanhenge phenomenon was the focus of the episode of CSI: NY that aired on November 25, 2009.
- The closing scene from the 2010 film Morning Glory features Mike Pomeroy, played by Harrison Ford, and Becky Fuller, played by Rachel McAdams, walking off into the Manhattanhenge sunset.
- Canadian punk rock band, Fucked Up, featured the phenomenon of Manhattanhenge on the cover art of their 2008 album The Chemistry of Common Life.
- Tyson, Neil deGrasse. "Manhattanhenge" on the Hayden Planetarium website
- Harris, Rachel Lee. "Hot City, a Guide" New York Times (March 28, 2011)
- Tyson, Neil deGrasse. "Sunset on 34th Street Along the Manhattan Grid". Natural History. American Museum of Natural History. Archived from the original on June 11, 2007. Retrieved October 11, 2007. "Manhattan has two such special days: May 28 and July 12. On these days, the Sun fully illuminates every single cross street during the last fifteen minutes of daylight and sets exactly on the street’s centerline."
- Roylance, Frank. "Sunset on 'Manhattanhenge,'" Maryland Weather (The Baltimore Sun meteorology blog), Friday, July 13, 2007.
- "Chicagohenge!". Blog. Chicago Reader. Retrieved September 20, 2010.
- "Torontohenge". Torontopedia.
- "Experience "Manhattanhenge" in Toronto". Gavan.ca.
- Christopher DeWolf (July 14, 2009). "Manhattanhenge and Montrealhenge". urbanphoto.com. Retrieved July 23, 2013.
- "CSI: NY Manhattanhenge (2009)". IMDb.com. November 25, 2009. Retrieved December 4, 2009.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Manhattanhenge.|
- Hayden Planetarium discussion
- Video on Science Friday website
- Manhattanhenge, NOVA scienceNOW, first broadcast September 14, 2006
- New York Times CityRoom Blog from June 1st, 2009
- Manhattan Sunset
- Flickr photos tagged with Manhattanhenge
- Wired New York discussion of Manhattanhenge
- Video interpretation of Manhattanhenge
- Petzold, Charles (July 2005). "How Far from True North are the Avenues of Manhattan?". Concludes that the avenues of Manhattan deviate from true north by 29°
- Torontohenge wiki page on Torontopedia
- What is Manhattanhenge
- Manhattanhenge images on Yahoo! news July 12, 2011
- Interactive map showing Manhattanhenge visibility by time of year