Four times a year, the sunset aligns perfectly with Manhattan’s street grid to create a phenomenon known as Manhattanhenge. Neil deGrasse Tyson, an educator, writer, and Frederick P. Rose Director of the Hayden Planetarium at the Rose Center for Earth and Space, named the event after the summer solstice sunrise that aligns with Stonehenge in the United Kingdom.
Like the Stonehenge Solstice, Manhattanhenge provides awe-inspiring views that attract crowds of photographers and observers from around the world. If you want to see Manhattanhenge, you’ll need to know the best spots and times to witness the event.
When Does Manhattanhenge Happen?
Manhattanhenge happens in late May and mid-July every year. In 2019, the sunset occurred at:
- 8:13 p.m. on May 29
- 8:12 p.m. on May 30
- 8:20 p.m. on July 11
- 8:21 p.m. on July 12
The Hayden Planetarium predicts the precise dates and times for Manhattanhenge every year. Visit the planetarium’s website to learn when you can see Manhattanhenge take place.
Visit these five spots to see the event in all its splendor.
The Empire State Building (350 5th Ave.)
Since the Empire State Building sits at the corner of 5th Ave. and 34th St., it offers wonderful views of the setting sun in May and July.
Viewing Manhattanhenge from the 86th or 102nd floor of the Empire State Building offers a radically different experience from seeing the event from the ground. The buildings lining 34th Street won’t look like canyon walls. You will, however, get a wide perspective that gives you insight into how and why the phenomenon occurs.
You can reserve tickets to the Empire State Building’s observation deck several months in advance. Buy your tickets early so you don’t lose your spot.
Tudor City Place
If you want to see as many buildings as possible, make your way to Tudor City Place, a short street that intersects with 41st and 42nd streets. You’ll get a long view of the setting sun as it illuminates iconic locations like the Chrysler Building and Grand Central Terminal.
Arrive early and set up camp at Tudor City South Park before the crowd joins you.
SERRA by Birreria (200 5th Ave.)
SERRA by Birreria always gets mentioned as one of the best places to view the skyline without leaving Manhattan. Not surprisingly, it becomes even more popular during Manhattanhenge, when you get a clear view of the city from the restaurant’s rooftop bar. Even though you have a magnificent view of the city, the surrounding décor will make you feel like you’re relaxing in the Italian countryside.
Salon de Ning at the Peninsula Hotel (700 5th Ave.)
Salon de Ning, the Peninsula Hotel’s rooftop bar, gives you a sweeping view of Manhattan’s western half. The comfortable atmosphere will give you a chance to sit back and relax as you enjoy Manhattanhenge’s beauty.
mad46 (45 E. 45th St.)
On top of the Roosevelt Hotel, you’ll find a rooftop bar that serves signature drinks and eclectic food. During Manhattanhenge, you’ll also find a packed patio of onlookers who want to bask in the sunset’s glory. mad46 doesn’t require reservations. Considering that this popular bar and restaurant attracts a lot of Manhattanhenge onlookers, though, you should place a reservation as early as possible.
This year, hope for cloudless skies as you prepare to witness Manhattanhenge’s majesty. You’ll have plenty of company as you watch the sun set.