The giant towers of Manhattan are -- for the most part -- aligned on a grid. But it's not a true north-south-east-west grid. There's a 30-degree tilt to the east, which sometimes gives people who rely on their internal compass a sense of disorientation.
So twice a year, the city gets to experience "Manhattanhenge," that perfect day where the sun sets in perfect alignment with the street grid. This year's event will take place this evening at 8:17 p.m., and again on July 12. Credit for the "discovery" of Manhattanhenge goes to a guy working just up the street from me, Neil deGrasse Tyson, the director of the Hayden Planetarium in the Department of Astrophysics at the American Museum of Natural History.
Says Tyson on the museum's website:
“For Manhattan, a place where evening matters more than morning, that special day comes twice a year. For 2011 they fall on May 30th, and July 12th, 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. A rare and beautiful sight. These two days happen to correspond with Memorial Day and Baseball’s All Star break. Future anthropologists might conclude that, via the Sun, the people who called themselves Americans worshiped War and Baseball.”
No word on if any human sacrifices are scheduled, but hey, it's New York so it's quite possible.
Picture credit: Manhattanhenge from 34th Street. Amy Langfield/NewYorkology.
Ah, those creative types. Since they don't have any work in the current recession, they have to channel their energies somewhere. Thus, one creative based in Brooklyn decided to poke fun at those living across the East River on the island of Manhattan:
Well, at least one denizon of the big island seem to take umbrage at this, so he decided to respond.
You can read more about the gentle jousting on the Village Voice blog. Nothing heard from Queens or the Bronx yet, but hopefully we'll be able to read their letters despite the nasally accent.
When I first moved to New York City, I was often trampled as I walked down the sidewalks by native New Yorkers who were in a hurry to get everywhere. Get in their way and you risked at best dirty looks, perhaps grumbling and even an occasional sarcastic comment.
Within weeks, however, my pace quickened and I could long-stride down 7th Avenue with the best of them.
Today, I noticed that native New Yorkers are now too slow -- I'm faster than 90 percent of this city's residents.
I've previously noted the jokes that have been made about how fast New Yorkers walk versus tourists. And yes, the tourists meandering down the streets in Times Square still drive me nuts. But to be irritated by the slow strides of high-speed New Yorkers? I'm going to have to put a mental speed regulator on or start wearing running shorts to work.
Photo (c) 2010 Darren Drevik. All Rights Reserved.
New York City has had 48 hours to digest the news that Osama Bin Laden, the man who masterminded the greatest horror in this city’s history, is dead.
To describe the initial reaction Sunday night as an outpouring of celebration and happiness would be an error. Yes, there were those who spontaneously gathered at Ground Zero and Times Square to celebrate that one of the most evil men in history had been brought to justice at the hands of President Obama and the Navy Seals. But the overall reaction of the city’s residents has been much more tempered.
Tempered. This is a city that has been tempered over the past 10 years. You don’t travel far in Manhattan without seeing reminders of that horrible day. Firehouses still hang the helmets of those who died trying to save others. When you ask firefighters how long they’ve been with NYFD, the most common answer is nine years – when the department had to go on a hiring binge to replace the 343 firefighters killed that day. You see pictures of loved ones lost in restaurants where their parents still work. You hear stories from co-workers of what they were doing that day. Policemen in New York -- 23 NYPD officers and 37 Port Authority officers died -- receive the type of deference and respect other major-city law enforcement officers don't enjoy.
Osama Bin Laden is dead. But so are the 3,000 people who died on September 11, 2001. While his death provides a modicum of closure, it provides little comfort to those wives whose husbands still aren’t coming home, to the children who still know their parents as photographs rather than people.
New Yorkers understand that. So while the city seems relieved and slightly pleased that the man who caused this is dead, there will be no ticker tape parades. In fact, the hope is that the President tomorrow when he visits Ground Zero doesn’t even mention Bin Laden’s name. Doing so, one newspaper editorialized this morning, would dishonor that hallowed ground.
There are the natural concerns about reprisals from single individuals who continue to suffer from the mental illness that the now-dead Saudi spread. But the people of this city are a stubborn and brusque lot. They will go about their business with a slightly heightened sense of awareness, but little fear. Being afraid hands the terrorists a victory; and people of New York are determined not to do that.