A Manhattanhenge Reading List

By Elizabeth Waters, Mid-Manhattan Library
May 28, 2020
Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library (SNFL)

Manhattanhenge 42nd st. Photo by Sevtibidou

Updated 5/18/2022

Manhattanhenge is coming, and we’ve made a reading list to celebrate!

On two days of every year, the sun aligns perfectly with Manhattan’s east-west street grid, as the sun aligns with the prehistoric stones of Stonehenge on the summer solstice. Astrophysicist (and head of the Hayden Planetarium) Neil deGrasse Tyson named this phenomenon Manhattanhenge: “For Manhattan, a place where evening matters more than morning, that special day comes twice a year, when the setting Sun aligns precisely with the Manhattan street grid, creating a radiant glow of light across Manhattan's brick and steel canyons, simultaneously illuminating both the north and south sides of every cross street of the borough's grid.”

May 2022 Manhattanhenge dates:

  • Half Sun on the Grid on Sunday, May 29 at 8:13 PM
  • Full Sun on the Grid on Monday, May 30 at 8:12 PM

July 2022 Manhattanhenge dates:

  • Full Sun on the Grid on Monday, July 11 at 8:20 PM
  • Half Sun on the Grid on Tuesday, July 12 at 8:21 PM

Neil deGrasse Tyson recommends 14th, 23rd, 34th, 42nd, 57th, and several adjacent streets for the best views. Read more about Manhattanhenge on the Hayden Planetarium website.


It's Mid-Manhattanhenge! Photo by Billy Parrott and Arieh Ress.

To get in the Manhattanhenge mood, we suggest books below on a variety of topics.

The Grid

How did New York City come to have a grid street system? How has it affected the city's development

Delirious New York: A Retroactive Manifesto for Manhattan by Rem Koolhaas. Explore Manhattan’s “culture of congestion” in this classic architectural, social, and cultural history of New York, first published in 1978.

The Greatest Grid, edited by Hilary Ballon, follows the grid from its initial design to its implementation, evolution, and enduring influence. This volume was published to coincide with an exhibit at the Museum of the City of New York in 2012. The online exhibit of The Greatest Grid is available on the museum’s website.

In City on a Grid: How New York Became New York (2015), Gerard Koeppel traces the development of Manhattan’s street grid.

Jason Barr explores the history of the skyline, focusing on the economic forces that resulted in the Manhattan skyline we now know in Building the Skyline (2016).

The nonfiction comic Robert Moses: The Master Builder of New York City by Pierre Christin and Olivier Balez has some beautiful illustrations of real New York streetscapes and a rendering of Moses’s (thankfully!) unrealized Mid-Manhattan expressway.

Street Art & Photography

Manhattanhenge brings many New Yorkers out to the streets. We have lots of great books of New York City street photography and street art. Here are just a few to start with:

Humans of New York and Humans of New York: Stories by Brandon Stanton. You can also visit the photographer's popular Humans of New York blog.

NY Through the Lens by Vivienne Gucwa

On the Street: 1980-1990 by Amy Arbus

(Un)sanctioned: The Art on New York Streets compiled by Katherine 'Luna Park' Lorimer 

New York is for Walkers

Explore fiction set in New York which highlights walking and wandering the city. 

manhattanhenge walking.jpg

Thanks to Billy Parrott, Nancy Aravecz, Erica Parker, Jay Vissers, Lauren  Lampasone, and Arieh Ress for contributing to this list!