New York City came to a partial halt on Monday afternoon as New Yorkers grabbed their special cardboard sunglasses and momentarily turned their gaze from their navels to the skies for the first total American eclipse in almost a century.

"I'd never seen the sun directly, so even when it was full it was an amazing sight," said Sharon Dolin, a poet who lives on the Upper West Side, standing outside the Hayden Planetarium in Central Park. "And then to see if from just a straight line missing to a curve, it does meet my expectations."

"I don't know if it's going to get dark," she added. "I would want to really feel it was dark and have that scary feeling that certain people from many millennia ago had. That feeling of awe."

Michelle Welch of Louisville, Kentucky brought her Pomeranian Yuki to Central Park. "That's why I'm standing in the shade. I keep her covered," she said, noting that dogs don't know to look away from the sun. "I met a couple really nice people who shared their glasses," she added. "It's amazing."

NASA started livestreaming the Great American Eclipse at noon. This is the first cross-country eclipse in 99 years, though not every state is experiencing it in totality. In New York, the partial eclipse (71%) started to become visible around 1:23 p.m. and reached its peak at 2:44. It concluded around 4:00 p.m.

In a city as dense as this one, people-watching is half of the entertainment.

"Space is mysterious," said Robert Demko, watching the eclipse in Central Park. "It's something we're in but we don't know it until stuff like this happens."

Others were less focused on the cosmos. In Crown Heights, one woman looked at the horizon from a rooftop on Nostrand Avenue and remarked, "Look at all of those shades of blue. It looks like an Instagram filter."

Additional reporting by Scott Heins.