What makes this beautiful sunset light percolating through the New York City grid and illuminating the urban canyons extraordinarily special is that during Manhattanhenge, the setting sun aligns exactly between the bustling streets. Due to seasonal variations in position of the sun, it rises precisely due east and sets due west only twice a year. The Manhattanhenge dates vary every year, as explained by the Hayden Planetarium, who keep track of the event but usually take place sometime in May and July. For every time this happens, one has the opportunity to view it twice – the full sun on the grid followed by the half sun the very next day.
The best places to view and/or capture the event is from wide cross streets as far east as possible, for example, 14th, 23rd, 34th. 42nd, 57th, and several streets adjacent to them. My fiancee and I positioned ourselves at a location favored by many – on Tudor City Bridge overlooking the Chrysler Building on 42nd Street. We arrived at 5 PM, but the best spots on the bridge were already taken! Because there are streets obstructing the view on the sides of the bridge, only the central 15 feet or so are usable. Hence, photographers line up in rows of up to 5 to capture the fantastic sunset. Rubbing shoulders and bumping heads with our co-photogs, we were undeterred by the soaking thunderstorm that came 40 minutes prior to sunset. Once the sun came out, all troubles were forgotten.