This is a new one on me – Manhattanhenge or Manhattan Solstice?

Apparently it is an event which happens twice a year when the setting sun aligns itself with the East/West streets of Manhattan.

It was named in 1996 by astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson and he uses it to promote interest in his subject.  It obviously comes from the similarity to the sun’s alignment with the stones at Stonhenge on Salisbury Plain (England), but occurs between the very modern skyscrapers of New York.

Apparently similar events occur in other cities with gridded road systems such as Toronto, Chicago, Baltimore and Montreal.  It would be interesting to see in a few thousand years time, when archeologists root around the remains of these cites, whether they claim that the societies that lived there worshiped the sun.  Of course a large proportion of them do – but it has nothing to do with the alignment of their cities and it is definitely not in a religious context.

There is something magical when we are suddenly stunned by the immensity and beauty of the universe; but when it is an everyday event which suddenly confronts us and makes us look again in awe, it seems to have a special power.

I could mention our historic connection with the phases of the Sun and the passing seasons, when nature governed all our daily lives.  But I won’t, and will leave you with a few of the pictures of Manhattanhenge in action – careful you don’t get blinded!

Manhattanhenge 1

Manhattanhenge 2 Manhattanhenge 3

Last Phase of The High Line

The High Line – the conversion of the disused elevated freight-railway in Manhattan into a nature park – is nearing completion.  It is a beautiful idea, an elegant combination of the old industrial infrastructure supporting an injection of nature, all in the depths of the most iconic of modern cities.  It is one of the reasons why I want to go back to New York.

The final section is due to open in late 2014 and will include a bowl-shaped structure called The Spur, which will become the access point at the railway yards and allow walkers to sit encompassed by foliage in the heart of the city.  Maybe that would be a good time to visit…

The Spur 1

The Spur 2

The Spur 3