City without lights? Blackout leaves Broadway, in Times Square in the dark

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Verena Dobnik and Ali Swenson, The Associated Press

Published Saturday, 13 July 2019 20: 20 EDT

Last updated Sunday 14 July 2019 7:05 CET

NEW YORK – A power outage has paralyzed the heart full of Manhattan tourists just as Saturday night Broadway shows were destined to continue, sending spectators to spill out into the mermaid-filled streets, knocking down electronic screens towering Times Square and bringing the subway lines to a nearby stop.

Electricity has been restored by customers and businesses in midtown Manhattan and the Upper West Side around midnight.

The CEO of Con Edison, John McAvoy, stated that a problem in a substation caused the power outage at 6:47 pm, affecting 73,000 customers for more than three hours along a 30-block stretch from Times Square to 72nd Street and Broadway, and spreading to Rockefeller Center.

McAvoy said the exact cause of the blackout would not be known until an investigation is completed.

The temperature was low in the 80s when the sun went down, but not as steaming as Manhattan can get in July, challenging the city's electricity grid.

The power came out early Saturday evening in much of Rockefeller Center, reaching the Upper West Side and knocking out traffic lights.

A great applause rose among the inhabitants of the Upper West Side when power returned to flashing at about 10:30 am For hours before, the doormen stood with torches in the dark entrances of luxury buildings along Central Park West, directing the residents to climb the flights of stairs to their apartments, with all the elevators outside.

The police directed the traffic to the intersections, while pedestrians and bicycles moved in the darkness.

The break comes in the anniversary of the 1977 New York City break that left most of the city without energy.

Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a statement that although no injuries were reported "the fact that it happened at all is unacceptable". He said the State Department of Public Service will investigate.

He said the interruption poses a security risk.

"You can't have a power outage of this magnitude in this city," said Cuomo. "It's too dangerous, the potential risk to public safety and chaos is too high, we simply can't have a system that does it, it's so simple at the end of the day."

Many Broadway musicals and plays have canceled their Saturday evening shows, including "Hadestown", which won the Tony Award for Best Musical last month. Several cast members of the musical "Come From Away" held an impromptu street performance outside the theater for disappointing members of the public.

Emily Totero, 30, has planned to take guests out of town to see "Moulin Rouge". But once they got to the theater district, they saw the power go out.

"You could see all the lights of the theater from the other side of the street, all the tents were off. This is what we noticed before," he said.

The break also hit Madison Square Garden, where Jennifer Lopez performed Saturday night. The participants said that the concert went into darkness around 9:30 in the afternoon. in the middle of the fourth song of Lopez's night. The arena was subsequently evacuated. And at Penn Station, officials used backup generators to keep the lights on.

Both Carnegie Hall and the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts have been evacuated.

When the lights went out, Saturday night, thousands of people came down from darkened Manhattan buildings, crowding Broadway near traffic between bumpers and sirens of emergency vehicles and horns.

Neighborhood people commonly known as Hell's Kitchen began directing traffic on their own as traffic lights and street signs darkened.

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

"When the lights started to flicker, and then they were out, we got up and left, walking on Broadway with all the traffic lights and dark businesses," he said.

But once they arrived at West 72nd Street, they found another restaurant that was open and had power.

"It was still sunny and everyone went out into the street because they lost power and air conditioning, it was very crowded," he said. "Everybody had appeared on the street on a beautiful evening. All that felt the fireworks up and down Broadway, all of Broadway was without traffic lights."

Underground, the entire metro system was concerned. Maxwell Young, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, said that four Manhattan stations were closed to the public: Columbus Circle, Rockefeller Center, Hudson Yards and Fifth Avenue on 53rd Street. But he said that the train operators were able to manually change the signals and bring at least one car to the stations so that passengers could get off.

Karen Janowsky, a poncho salesman at a street fair on Sixth Avenue in Rockefeller Center, was trapped in the blackout while he was finishing the day and bringing some of the goods to his car parked in a garage two blocks west on 49th Street . This prevented her from driving her car to take the tables, chairs and racks – all before she could run back to get them

"I was alone and couldn't get it all, so they stole my things," he said, adding that he had no idea who the people who had taken them were. "It was chaos, with the fire trucks and the people filling the streets, when the lights went out, I was a minute from the car's arrival in the garage."

He lost about $ 400 of installation equipment for his assets.

"I've been stuck for the last three hours," Janowsky. "I have another fair tomorrow, and I don't know what I will do."

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Associated Press reporters Michael Sisak and Leezel Tanglao contributed to this report.

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