The phenomenon of Manhattanhenge

The Little-Known Topiary Skyline of New York City

High in the sky above New York City, there’s a new kind of movement. A green movement towards verdant and lush patches of plants and shrubs, which guard the top of skyscrapers like sentries. It’s one of several great new reasons to visit NYC, including an amazing solar phenomenon and a fantastic rooftop bar.

The phenomenon of Manhattanhenge

Manhattanhenge

This isn’t a place of worship for Druids in dark robes. No, Manhattanhenge is a phenomenon that’s only seen once or twice a year in New York City, sort of like an urban solar eclipse. Geography and astronomy geeks will be well versed with this event – the sun takes its daily traverse across the sky and sets smack bang in the middle of the streets of Manhattan in a cascading fireball of orange and red. It’s a great reason to visit Manhattan and happens twice a year, once at the end of May and once during July. For a truly great view of this awesome sight, take it in from a cruise on the Hudson River.

The Manhattanhenge phenomenon was a happy accident resulting from the way the city was first conceived and designed. Today’s Manhattan reflects the legislature of 1811 street planning that follows a roughly rectangular structure for streets that stretch from the north east to the south west. This results in a weird kind of summer solstice that means all of the streets in Manhattan are privy to a breathtaking solar temple twice a year.

The High Line

This is a part of the city’s must-see list of parks; a sprightly green belt of leafy topiary that’s built upon a disused railway line. The High Line is a mile-long elevated road that snakes its way from Gansevoort Street into the meat packing district. Nearly 4.5 million people visited the High Line in 2012 and there always seems to be a crowd, so if you want some inner-city serenity, the best time to go is in the morning when it opens at 7am.

Due to the constant buzz of people on the High Line, there are always exhibitions and things going on up there among the plants. The Whitney Museum of American Art, which faces the High Line, has rooftop exhibitions to ponder over while taking in the glorious views. The High Line as a railway had its final curtain call in 1980 and for decades sat unused and sad looking, so it’s great that it’s now booming and has become a genuine horticultural marvel of NYC.

Le Bain – Rooftop Bar

Of all the swanky bars in New York, Le Bain is the place that’s full of kitsch, where visitors are guaranteed a good time. It attracts the local musician and artist crowd and features kitschy fake plants, astroturf along with baby pink lounge chairs, and evokes a cute ’60s style. Watch the moon rise over the Hudson River with a Fraise 76 (vodka, lemon and strawberry, topped with Champagne).

New York has always inspired with its huge scale and its towering skyscrapers but now there are several more reasons to look to the sky in the Big Apple.

Image by 4rilla

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