Manhattanhenge, what can I really say about it? Not much except you can say of well many, many things. It is one of the few remaining natural phenomenon that occur around the city on these four days of the year (around May and July) where the sun sets between 22nd and 42nd streets, many case as far up as to 128th street. Thanks in part to the city’s layout of the grid format combined with the natural angular positioning of Manhattan island and the grid-like setup gives itself a spectacular show from which many from around the world come to see. As far as I can remember, the last time I arrived to see the sun set on 42nd was around the summer of 2007. Most other years after that were the result of me simply forgetting about it. Often that can happen with head-smacking consequences.
“There’s always next year” as the crowd says and I do. All the way to now on these days of 2012. Let’s skip the facts that in the past six and half months have been the most explosive in anniversaries and the whole end of the world scare which I believe for my sake is total bullshit. No there won’t be none of that. For now I want to enjoy the moment right here, right now as I spend four to five hours in the open sun now and the open shade later to deal with the rush of photographers and video-takers on this day of days. Upon the first time I heard about the event on the Hayden Planetarium site I was really interested in seeing this for myself. Well lets just say that didn’t work out for the most part it was sheer laziness and coming in too late. But then came 2007 and the rest was history to go at it again. But during that time I had that old Canon actionshot camera I got from my graduation in 1998 and it was already becoming a burden compared to today’s standards. I mean thinner memory cards with more space compared to my… old 64 MB compact flash. Which costs $75 back then.
Well fast forwarding to the present, a better camera comes into play, same maker, same series but with better features and video that can last longer than fifteen fucking minutes. The key to getting at this event is the most simplest: getting there early as possible, bring food and drinks and wait in the shade. Oh and wear a good vented hat. Already within the time of four and five o’clock people start to rush in and mostly hang around. But the range is incredible. Me, an amateur surrounded by experienced professionals with high-def video cameras, multi-thousand dollar cameras with huge telephoto lenses and folks from the major news networks come in to talk to the people who visit this safe piece of the street.
And I mean safe because the most gathered site of the event is the bridge crossing over it. The Tudor Place Road bridge which crosses over 42nd between the rest of the street and the United Nations building makes it the prime location of goers. There are those who brave enough (sometimes stupid enough) to actually go into the middle of the street below the bridge to take shots right before the police swoop in and clear everybody out. But when the sun comes in. My god it’s incredible! That’s the idea I had in my mind on day one. It’s day two and deciding to take the initiative to bring my mini-laptop and tripod from the telescope that I hardly ever use and thinking of selling it off. I came early, with hat and foodstuffs in hand and braced for the four and a half hour waiting game that is Manhattanhenge.
As of writing this article on one of the few times that I bring my laptop outside, there are now several people gathering on the bridge taking pictures long before the sun comes in as if they were wanting to chronicle the event as it happens, Me I plan to do the same but want to get the whole video experience as well. Right to the end where the audience cheers for an incredible show. I can’t wait to see more reporters, curious seekers and pro videographers come in for the show. Just yesterday I was interviewed by a reporter from NPR and promised him to share the pictures in the progress. So far day one worked well now day two is in progress to which I say, it didn’t work out very well. Like the time before back in May, the damn clouds swoop in and blocked the view of the sun that was coming in down as much to the *sigh* chagrin of the populace coming in marvel at the sight of… clouds. At the end of the day, everyone still stick around for a couple of minutes before leaving the bridge and life below quickly return back to normal.
The event is by all accounts a really great experience but not just for the astronomical event that once Dr. DeGrasse-Tyson once endorsed years ago on the very bridge that will become the main spot for people to gather and take pictures but for the droves of socialization that go about between total strangers to talk about their lives, things they have done and other things before the sun goes down.
To end this overview here are some links to the pictures I have taken on days one and two.