A woman standing on 42nd Street at 10:30 am on March 25, a sunny day very close to the spring equinox, asking a police officer which way was east.
The sun was shining very brightly from the east. It was an absolutely lovely day.
Are people so cut off from the natural physical world that they don't think to use the bright, shining sun to help them navigate the (nearly) north/south/east/west Manhattan grid? After I was amused, I had this second, sobering thought, which made me a little bit sad.
Labels: New York
I always check the weather on the computer, because I grew up in Boston, where the weather currently outside the window has little to do with what the weather might be an hour or two hence!
The Manhattan grid does not exactly correspond to the compass points. I think the avenues run about 17 degrees off of North. Also, the sun does not rise and set at compass east and west, but can vary in New York by many many degrees.
Your basic point is of course correct.
On the equinox, the sun does rise and set at compass east and west. (But yes, Manhattan is rotated, resulting in Manhattanhenge, also quite inappropriately known as Manhattan Solstice. A better name would be Manhattan Equinox, since in a city where the streets actually run east-west, this would occur on the equinox.)
Still, I think that the typical modern-day American probably doesn't think so much about compass point directions. I'm not sure why, since it's very helpful for situating oneself on a map whether exploring an unfamiliar place on foot or by car, but I guess GPS is making regular old map-reading an obsolete skill. Sigh...
I never thought that most people in Oz don't use the sun and shadows to help them find their way.
Calgon, take me away.
I never remember to bring a compass, and it is more challenging to find mizrach when it is night or cloudy, but I usually manage to. The night before, at JFK, the lights were too bright to see any stars, but I noticed the air train arriving from the right, and turning around 90 degrees and going away from me. So I figured that Jamaica was to the right, and I was facing Howard Beach, so I was facing west, and east was opposite the window.