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Saturday 9 December 2023 Dublin: 7°C
New York Minute

Carnegie Hall choir do impromptu gig on New York street as power cut plunges city into darkness

The power eventually came back on at 3am Irish time.

A POWER OUTAGE that gripped New York’s Manhattan ended in the early hours this morning after it plunged Broadway theaters into darkness, brought subways to a halt and flicked off billboards in Times Square.

About 42,000 customers lost electricity in the early evening, according to power utility Con Edison, which didn’t indicate a cause of the power failure.

The power returned around 10:00 pm (3am Irish time), accompanied by applause that could be heard throughout the formerly darkened streets.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Twitter that the outage was caused by a “manhole fire,” but later told CNN it was under investigation.

New York Power Outage Michael Owens / PA Images Screens in Times Square are black during the power outage. Michael Owens / PA Images / PA Images

Earlier in the day, dozens of people posted photos on social media of streets, subways and apartments shrouded in darkness.

The blackout disrupted services across the United States’s most-populous city, with New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority on Twitter encouraging “everyone to avoid below-ground subway stations,” which account for most of the city’s rail network.

Firefighters said they responded to numerous requests for help, particularly from people trapped in lifts, and the strobes of police cars and ambulances were some of the few to stand out in a city where light is rarely in short supply.

New York Power Outage Michael Owens / PA Images Pedestrians cross the street near emergency response vehicles at 50th Street and 8th Avenue. Michael Owens / PA Images / PA Images

New Yorkers in general took yesterday’s outage in stride, with passersby manning intersections to direct traffic and a disrupted Carnegie Hall concert continuing in the street.

Officers shouted “let’s go!” at drivers as they tried to keep traffic flowing, while people strolled on streets that were temporarily closed to vehicles.


At the Row NYC hotel on 8th Avenue, dozens of guests were sitting on the pavement outside the property.

New York Power Outage Michael Owens / PA Images A subway station in the dark. Michael Owens / PA Images / PA Images

Hotel staff had asked them not to go inside as there were no lights for them to see by and the elevators weren’t working, 16-year-old Spanish tourist Alba Moreno said.

Con Edison said it would have most of its customers back online by midnight, but there were few details about the cause of the outage.

“This appears to be something that just went wrong in the way that they transmit power from one part of the city to another to address demand,” said de Blasio.

The mayor was not in New York but rather Iowa, where he was pursuing the Democratic nomination for president despite low poll numbers.

New York Power Outage Michael Owens / PA Images 50th and 8th ave during a widespread power outage Michael Owens / PA Images / PA Images

The cut affected the western chunk of Manhattan, particularly the Hell’s Kitchen neighbourhood and the Broadway theatre district.

Most Broadway shows were canceled, including hit musicals Hamilton and The Lion King, while a choir performing at Carnegie Hall moved out to the pavement to continue their show.

It took place on the anniversary of a 1977 power cut that affected virtually all of New York as it was struggling through an economic crisis.

Looting and vandalism then broke out, affecting more than a thousand businesses before the lights came back on 25 hours later.

With reporting from Sean Murray

- © AFP 2019

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