What is Manhattanhenge?

Also called the Manhattan Solstice, Manhattanhenge is a phenomenon that happens 4 times a year, during summer and winter solstices. The event gives New Yorkers and people all over the world a beautiful experience and quite a view.

manhattanhenge sunset
Craig Fruchtman

Specifically this year, on May 18, July 13, December 5, and January 8, Manhattanhenge takes place. It is when the sun perfectly aligns with the Manhattan street grid. People can see the setting sun in May and July, and the rising sun in December and January between Manhattan buildings.

manhattanhenge sunset from far
Amy Pascal

Manhattanhenge occurs mostly because of the city’s architectural design. The Manhattan streets’ design gives the city urban canyons. On some exact dates, the sunset and sunrise look like the sun is rising or setting at the end of the east and west streets.

setting sun over the bridge manhattanhenge
Matt Ritchie

Spectators have the best chances of experiencing Manhattanhenge on 14th, 23rd, 34th, 42nd, and 57th Streets. Every year thousands of New Yorkers and tourists gather together to see this solar event. However, sometimes weather conditions can block the sun, stopping the party, literally.

manhattanhenge behind the river
NYC Tourism

“Manhattanhenge” of course takes inspiration from the original sun solstice site: Stonehenge. It was Neil DeGrasse Tyson, one of the most important astrophysicists in the world today, who coined the name.

manhattanhenge over the bridge
Craig Fruchtman

Through the name, Tyson points out how the sun has an immense effect on us as a civilization. The annual solar phenomenon is so popular among people that on Instagram there are over 100,000 photos with the hashtag #manhattanhenge.

setting sun in nyc

Many astronomers and sociologists have commented on Manhattanhenge’s cultural influence on New York. Seeing the sun right in the middle of the street grid makes people question the universe and consequently humanity’s place in it.

setting sun in nyc
Craig Fruchtman

Moreover, Manhattanhenge is not the only solar phenomenon city-wise. In Baltimore, Massachusetts, San Francisco, Toronto, Montreal, and Strasbourg similar events happen as well. Not coincidentally, the ones in Toronto and Montreal are called Torontohenge and Montrealhenge too.

setting sun under the bridge