In 1811 a street plan was adopted for the island of Manhattan that allowed the sun to set directly on the line of the streets twice a year. The cross-street grid was approved by the Commissioners’ Plan of 1811 to be offset from true east-west by 29 degrees to allow this to happen.
The effect is spectacular. It has also been described as unique, because the tall buildings of Manhattan create a canyon effect heightened by the un-interrupted views across the Hudson River towards New Jersey.
For 2013 the effect will occur on May 28th and July 13th. On those days the setting Sun will align with Manhattan’s street grid creating a sunset glow directly down each cross street.
John Randel Jr. (1787–1865) was the surveyor who created Manhattan’s grid over what was an undeveloped, hilly island. Randel was a believer in the Enlightenment, new theories, which gave math and science a new role in human affairs.
Randell was most probably a Freemason too, as they were holders of many high offices in the US during the early years after independence.
Manhattan’s street grid is at its most beautiful when the streets align directly with the setting sun. Whether future historians interpret this to mean New Yorker’s worship the sun is another matter entirely.
** This is a reblogged post. This is not my writing.