In June, I was sent a magnum of S.Pellegrino sparkling water with an invite attached to it, heralding a VIP Manhattanhenge viewing experience. At last, branded sunsets.
The invite was to "Our exclusive Manhattanhenge celebration," at what the sparkling water company called "NYC's most picture perfect view." The "sunset soiree" hosted on the final full sun Manhattanhenge of the year, promised food from fancy chefs, and Ubers and Lyfts to and from the event. It was held at Tudor City Bridge, arguably one of the most popular spots for Manhattanhenge viewing.
Since the commodification of Manhattanhenge into an exclusive event for VIPs is probably not what Neil deGrasse Tyson had in mind when he coined the term, I asked the S.Pellegrino people how they managed to take over the coveted spot. A rep told me, "We worked with the city to receive the proper permitting to execute this experience!" The result: their VIP viewing area on the bridge was large enough to host 125 attendees. In addition to the Tudor City Bridge event, they also created "mini events at 3 other locations nearby — 23rd & Park, 14th & 4th, 42nd & 2nd," I was told.
Photographer David "Dee" Delgado checked out the bridge scene for us, and says the VIP section was an overcrowded platform tent set up behind the viewing spot. One side of the bridge housed the VIP tent, and the remaining area was filled with unimportant people not part of the Pellegrino event.
— Antonio Sciuto (@antonio_sciuto) July 12, 2018
Earlier this week Dave Johnson, a Tudor City resident, told Gothamist, "Pellegrino has spent the past two days building a VIP only viewing stand for Manhattanhenge on Tudor City Place — the best viewing spot in the city, I live there. Kind of annoying that they would commodify a fun, homegrown city-wide activity and turn it into a velvet-rope, branded affair." He sent along this photo of the set up:
S.Pellegrino's VIP section for Manhattanhenge. (Dave Johnson)
Tonight is the final half sun Manhattanhenge of the year, and Tudor City Bridge will be free and clear of branded experiences, so you can just go enjoy the sunset without a VIP bracelet. Though you'll still have to contend with the hoards of New Yorkers trying to get the perfect shot.
Click through for photos from last night's scene on the Tudor City Bridge.