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Saturday 17 August 2019

Big Apple goes dark as power outage strikes New York City

A transformer fire saw more than 44,000 customers lose power.

A man makes his way through a dark Times Square during a power outage (Michael Owens/PA)
A man makes his way through a dark Times Square during a power outage (Michael Owens/PA)

By Verena Dobnik and Ali Swenson, Associated Press

New York’s Times Square fell dark and subway trains halted as Manhattan was struck by a power cut.

Authorities scrambled to restore electricity to Manhattan following the outage which darkened marquees in the theatre district and left businesses without electricity.

The power cut also hit Madison Square Garden, where Jennifer Lopez was performing on Saturday night. Attendees said the concert went dark about 9.30pm in the middle of Lopez’s fourth song of the night.

The New York City Fire Department said the outage had been caused by a transformer fire on Saturday evening at West 64th Street and West End Avenue and affected more than 44,000 customers along a 30-block stretch from Times Square to about 72nd Street and Broadway.

Officials with Con Edison later tweeted that they were working to restore electricity to customers and businesses primarily on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.

The power reportedly went out early on Saturday evening at much of the Rockefeller Centre and reached the Upper West Side.

Atthe Rockefeller Centre, traffic lights were out while some buildings in Rockefeller Plaza had lights on and others were dark.

The outage came on the anniversary of the 1977 New York City outage that left most of the city without power.

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A store owner in Times Square sits outside his shop during a widespread power outage (Michael Owens/AP)

Many Broadway musicals and plays cancelled their Saturday evening shows, including Hadestown, which last month won the Tony Award for best musical.

Several cast members from the show put on an impromptu performance in the street outside the theatre for disappointed audience members.

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People walk in midtown Manhattan during a widespread power outage, (Michael Owens/AP)

Emily Totero, 30, planned to take guests to see Moulin Rouge, but once they got to the theatre district, they saw the power go out.

“You could see all the theatre lights across the street, all the marquees went out. That’s what we noticed first,” she said.

Some shows like Frozen were among the Broadway shows to announce it had cancelled performances.

When the lights went out early on Saturday evening, thousands of people streamed out of darkened Manhattan buildings, crowding Broadway next to bumper-to-bumper traffic.

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Pedestrians cross the street near emergency response vehicles at 50th Street and 8th Avenue (Michael Owens/AP)

People in Hell’s Kitchen began directing traffic themselves as stoplights and walking signs went dark.

Ginger Tidwell, a dance teacher and Upper West Side resident, was about to order at the West Side diner on Broadway and West 69th Street just before 7pm.

“When the lights started flickering, and then were out,” she said.

Everyone was hanging out on the street on a nice night. All you could hear was fire trucks up and down Broadway. All of Broadway was without traffic lights

“We got up and left, walking up Broadway with all the traffic lights out and businesses dark.”

But once they got to West 72nd Street, they found another diner that was open and had power.

“It was still sunny and everyone just came out to the street because they lost power and air conditioning – it was super-crowded,” she said.

“Everyone was hanging out on the street on a nice night. All you could hear was fire trucks up and down Broadway. All of Broadway was without traffic lights.”

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