David Stone
Manhattanhenge viewing, 2017, FDR Four Freedoms Park
Manhattanhenge viewing, 2017, FDR Four Freedoms Park
Photo courtesy of FDR Four Freedoms Park

Last summer, when the sun's rays made the 94.5 million mile trip just to spill brilliant harmony down Manhattan's East to West street grid, it was a perfect summer evening in FDR Four Freedoms Park, an ideal setting for Manhattanhenge. With perfect weather forecast, we're looking for a repeat performance on Thursday, July 12th, when the Park stays open late again and welcomes everyone.

Manhattanhenge, 2017, was one of the mellowest evenings of my 27 years on Roosevelt Island, and it had at least as much to do with the park's setting as with the setting sun.

Hundreds of people, some neighbors, some fellow New Yorkers, some tourists, spread out along the tapered lawn while others dangled their feet off the edge of the granite walls under along the shady border. It was the best of New York. No crowding. No competing for viewing spots, just a gentle crowd, all ages, finding an excuse to indulge in the serenity in one of New York's most compulsively meditative spaces.

This was the New York seldom written about or reported on, agita-free, communally cohesive, everyone appreciating the same pleasures in individual ways.

Expect the same for 2018.

Fair skies, high of 88, the weather's expected to cooperate.

What is Manhattanhenge...?

According to Wikipedia, "The term 'Manhattanhenge' was popularized by Neil deGrasse Tyson, an astrophysicist at the American Museum of Natural History and a native New Yorker. It is a reference to Stonehenge, a prehistoric monument located in Wiltshire, England, which was constructed so that the rising sun, seen from the center of the monument at the time of the summer solstice, aligns with the outer 'Heel Stone.'"

Here in New York, we have no such pretense. Manhattanhenge is an accidental result of the Commissioners' Plan of 1811 when the street grid that defines New York was laid out, envisioning a future when rural farmlands north of Canal would become urban neighborhoods. It probably happened faster than anyone expected.

This year, Manhattanhenge happens on July 12th in FDR Four Freedoms Park. Again, the event, which will include music, is free.

You get a golden opportunity to experience a summer evening spectacular with as peaceful a crowd as you will ever join in New York City.

Additional details follow.