When Manhattan streets and the sun align

26 May
Manhattanhenge from Queens, Photo by David Reeves via flickr

Manhattanhenge from Queens, Photo by David Reeves via flickr

It’s just about time for Manhattanhenge– that moment where the sun aligns with Manhattan’s street grid. The magic times this year are Saturday and Sunday– May 30 & 31 and again on July 11 & 12.

On a day with a clear sunset, the experience is breathtaking. In 2005, when I still lived at the NE corner of Central Park, I happened to be riding a bus to City College for a soccer game on a clear Manhattanhenge evening. I highly recommend the bus viewing method– though it’s not good for photographs– the memory of that pink orb hovering over the horizon between city structures as I rode uptown still gives me chills.

Stonehenge at the solstice sunrise by tarotastic via flickr

Stonehenge at the solstice sunrise by tarotastic via flickr

I’ve been to Stonehenge, but I’ve never seen the Solstice sunrise. But that transient mixture of the cosmic with a human-produced structure, particularly when you transfer that experience to such a densely-packed urban location provides a collective opportunity to reflect on our individual place in relationship to the rest of the cosmos. Who are we and where do we fit? In our personal lives, our work, society, the cosmos? Twice a year, the streets we travel realign.

This year, now that Mayor Bloomberg has closed parts of Broadway near Times Square and Herald Square, I wonder if Midtown might not be the spot to view it. That is, if the hustle and bustle of tourists and synthetic light shows can pause long enough for a quiet, natural spectacle.

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