2018 – Hackenhenge (reverse Manhattanhenge)

(Ignore the stated publish date – this was published on October 17, 2018)


Obviously, Stonehenge is the inspiration for Manhattanhenge:


I don’t know how many people outside of the NYC area are familiar with Manhattanhenge. If you’re not, go here: http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/the-return-manhattanhenge

Be sure to click on the “whiteboard video” link for an explanation and the link for the video the author shot on May 30, 2010 to see it.

The explanation’s OK, but I think the video’s not very exciting.

Below are two pix I found online. This first one’s really cool-looking, but it’s mainly because of all the stopped taxis, the people in the street looking at the sun and the proper exposure of the buildings. And – fourth on the plus list – the sun is contained in its little open space…………nice and neat.


This image, I think, is a still from the video you just saw:

If the sun will pardon the pun, photographically, this is not a stellar picture.


I’ve yet to hear any of the NYC TV newscasters who breathlessly report on this “phenomenon” every time it comes around mention that they’re actually encouraging you to stare directly at the sun!

I just don’t see this as something to get all excited about or a reason for anyone to travel to NYC just to view it.


I’ve got something way better, though quite the reverse, here in Hackensack, NJ. Instead of the sun lighting up the empty space between buildings for a couple of minutes on a few streets for a day or two (twice a year), I’ve got it illuminating everything BUT the empty spaces. Instead, it’s reflecting off the buildings themselves – actually, the entire Manhattan skyline – for multiple days on end…………..also twice a year, as the sun travels north (Spring) and back south (Fall).

Which would you rather see – the sun lighting up air between buildings (doesn’t it light up air all day long?) or the sun reflecting brilliantly off one of the most famous skylines in the world?

The time of year differs from Manhattanhenge because my angle of viewing is not close to being directly (or nearly directly) east and west, since Midtown Manhattan is southeast of me. But while Manhattanites would have to go to different streets every couple of days, I stay here in one spot and take pictures that – when combined – show the movement of the sun’s reflections over the course of several days.

I can even swap out pictures from the same dates in different years because the sun (and its reflection) will always be in the same spot on those days (though the buildings may change).

For instance, the initial picture in the first set of three below is from October 17, 2015 and the other five sequential image components from both sets of three each are from October 20, 22, 24, 26, 28, 2013, yet you can see the sun’s steady southerly (to the right) progression.




I’m sure this reverse counterpoint to Manhattanhenge exists anywhere in northeastern NJ that has a clear view of the skyline. And it would occur at different times of the year, due to their particular angles relative to Manhattan. This just happens to be mine and has been for 30 years.

As mentioned above, the reflections can be blindingly bright (possibly harmful to eyeballs) and even light up one of my living room walls, but the New Jersey version sure beats staring directly at the sun with dark buildings surrounding you.

I should mention that I stopped shooting the southerly progression on October 28 back then because the NYC skyline pretty much ended at that point, but sometime in November, the sun’s trek will reach down to the World Trade Center. I’ll have to do some more digging – I’m sure I have shots of that somewhere (or I’ll just shoot it again next month, so you’ll have to check back and see).


During my research, I found there are other -henges. The one shot that caught my eye popped up under “Brusselshenge”. It’s just an absolutely stunning shot that appears to have not a single photographic deficiency. But while the sun looks very good, the stars (yeah, I know – the sun is a star) of the shot are the street, its lights and the sun’s reflection on the street.

I’m showing it on the page where I found it. The photographer’s name is Aliaume Chapelle.


This fall’s Hackenhenge started a week or two ago, but there have been many cloudy or rainy days, so I’ve only been able to shoot one day so far – October 13 (this post was made on October 17). This means that I will probably not be able to create a steady progression over time this fall.

During the course of each sunset, on whatever building the sun’s reflections happen to be falling on that day, you can see those reflections gradually intensify, peak (blazingly) and fade as they cross that building on a downward diagonal as the sun sets. This can take 15-20 minutes or more each day.

So what I’d like to do instead of showing the progression of the reflections over a couple of weeks’ time this year is to show them over the course of that one single day. It starts in the center:

Multiply that by the number of days that the sun takes to complete its journey lighting up every part of the skyline and you can see that the total amount of time spent viewing this phenomenon is measured in hours, instead of the minutes that the much-less majestic Manhattanhenge provides.


If you REALLY want to see the sun between some Hackensack buildings, I offer you the following: two high-rises on Prospect Ave with the sun AND the moon between them. No one in New York – or anywhere else – has ever offered something like this:



Manhattanhenge – in my opinion – seems like a tinier, inside-out runnerup version of Hackenhenge. If you agree, let me know in the comments.

Lastly……….if “Hackenhenge” becomes a thing, remember – you heard it here first.






One Comment

  1. John OToole March 1, 2023


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