Life is full of surprises. Even in local places you’ve called home your entire life.
I’ve lived on and off in New York City my entire adult life, including college. Growing up in Jerusalem and Denver, but with grandparents situated in NYC, my relationship with the Big Apple as a secondary home even before I moved here basically began at birth.
When you think of NYC, the first thing you think about Is not exactly breathtakingly gorgeous, calming sunsets.
You think of tall iconic buildings, maybe The Empire State Building or the Oculus or the triangular Flatiron building.
You think of the Coney Island magical amusement park that evokes endless days of childhood charm and joy. You think of the Seaglass carousel at the Battery Conservancy. You think of The Met, one of the finest art museums in the world, and its imposing gothic architecture. And so many other phenomenal and cultured museums.
Certainly, you think of enchanting Central Park and its fairytale quality and abundant possibilities for outdoor pleasure and fun.
You think of Old New York, and all that its vintage charm and nostalgia offers. You think of the gorgeous wondrous bridges that sprawl across the highways, sometimes spanning two different parts of New York, as they carry you above gliding waters below. The Brooklyn Bridge, known as the 8th wonder of the world. The Triborough. The George Washington and the Verrazano’s sleek double-decker suspension bridge.
Above all, when you think New York City, you think of the frenetic pace, people watching, traffic and sleepless nights.
Sunsets, we tend to think, are the domain of more pastoral landscapes.
As for Denver, nothing could be further than the truth. Night after night, Denver is bathed in some of the most incredible sunsets. The relatively low skyline leaves the front range exposed for stunning mountain views as the backdrop to some of the most extraordinary epic golden streaked skies.
There are the special places I enjoy going to, like Coors Field or Cranmer Park, where you can see the blazing magical sunset with such panoramic expansiveness; it’s simply stunning. Or, even as you drive around town running errands, if you are driving West and there is a rise in the road, there is the sunset to greet you in all of its beauty.
But New York isn’t Denver. Of course Denver has incredible sunsets! But New York? It is the gritty, no-nonsense, crowd-filled and at times grime-filled center of the world.
Yet, many years ago, I began paying attention to New York’s breathtakingly beautiful sunsets, too.
Of course, they can be seen only from certain special spots. Over the years, during many summer nights, I made the effort to soak in the sunsets, oftentimes in the classic flair of lantern lit and lined Riverside Park.
In fact, during the COVID lockdown, each evening I walked down to the Hudson River’s promenade. There was a pier that juts out on which I would sit and take in the stunning sunsets, often with boats sailing by, and with the George Washington Bridge far off to my left. Other times, I sat higher up, in Riverside Park, also a riverfront beauty that runs along the Hudson River, wataching that day’s gold orb dip and disappear into the water, another day gone.
Then, today I came across a new word: Manhattanhenge. It was in an article title, about people flocking to see the Manhattanhenge. What is this Manhattan pilgrimage I am missing? I wondered.
I must have been living under a rock, because I just learned for the first time that a Manhattanhenge is a phenomenon when a setting sun is perfectly aligned with Manhattan’s grid-patterned streets, creating a picturesque effect, where the North and South sides of the city’s cross streets bask in the sun’s light.
I suppose that’s New York City for you, embodying a modern type of fusion and cityscape that enfolds the nature of the sunset with the modernity of buildings.
It occurs twice a year with a full sunset, and twice a year with a half sunset.
What a joy to discover something new and special about your city or neighborhood that you thought you were well acquainted with, but . . . there are still more layers of discovery.
The good news is, not only did I learn about Manhattanhenge, I didn’t miss it!
In fact, the full Manhattanhenge is tonight. At 8:12 p.m.
Now I just need to figure out the best street to walk to that will provide an unobstructed view of the Hudson River and this magical Manhattanhenge sunset.
Copyright © 2023 by the Intermountain Jewish News