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A Map That Shows When Any Street Aligns With the Sunset

A Map That Shows When Any Street Aligns With the Sunset
NYCHenge.com

Twice a year, if it's not too cloudy, the sun famously sets west of Manhattan's skyline in such a way that the island's cavernous east-west streets (OK, they're tilted on a slight axis) flood with light. The sun itself appears to dip to the horizon directly between the skyscrapers. Anyone with a camera is forgiven for halting traffic. Locals call the event Manhattanhenge, a rare alignment of astronomy and urban planning.


Flickr/Shmuel

Like most cities, though, New York is composed of numerous interlocking street grids, neighborhoods all plotted on a slightly different axis depending on the lay of the land or the whims of earlier settlers. This means that there are technically "henge" days (although we don't think anyone calls them that yet) across the city at different dates on the calendar. And now the mapmaking company CartoDB has built a phenomenal tool using OpenStreetMap to find them, casting the city's street grid in, err, "a whole new light."

The interactive map combines the city's street grid with a rotating calculation of the alignment of the sun:

Because you're probably wondering (we were, too), the map's creators say on a blog post about the project that they're hoping to add more cities. "There is no reason," they write, "why only New York should have a Manhattanhenge. We want to see a MissionHenge for SF, or a LatinaHenge for Madrid."

A cloudy sky spoiled the latest Manhattanhenge over the weekend. But now New Yorkers don't have to wait for another one next year.

Emily Badger is a former staff writer at The Atlantic Cities based in Washington, D.C. She now writes for The Washington Post. All posts »

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