If you’re like me, you take a passing interest in the movement of the moon, stars, and sun in the sky over Chicago.  If you remember your fifth grade Earth Science class, the vernal equinox happened on March 20th.  That’s was the day that the sun rose directly from the east.

Hard core earth-worship types spent thousands of dollars flying to places like Stonehenge to witness the sunrise casting shadows in perfect alignment.  But you can do the same thing right in your own backyard.  And the best parts are — it’s happening right now, and it’s free.

That’s because Chicago has a “henge” of its own.  It’s called “downtown.”

The skyscrapers that make up the city are on a East-West-North-South grid.  So in spring and fall, you end up with scenes like the picture above, where perfect shafts of eastbound light stream down the city’s streets, blinding drivers and pedestrians.

This isn’t a one-shot deal, though.  The effect goes on for weeks.  This picture was taken Tuesday, April 12th in the West Loop, near Heritage Green Park (610 West Adams Street).  You can see the shadows on the cars, trees, and people on West Monroe Street are still perfectly parallel to the curbs.

To witness this natural wonder yourself, all you need is a buddy with an apartment or condo in a high place, or the ability to get into Pepsi Park (555 West Monroe Street) a little early.

Author: Editor

Editor founded the Chicago Architecture Blog in 2003, after a long career in journalism. He can be reached at

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