The sidewalks in Times Square were overflowing as Manhattan was bathed in darkness. (AP: Michael Owens)
A large part of the Manhattan neighborhood of New York was plunged into the darkness of Saturday (local time) after a transformer explosion destroyed energy in Broadway subways, shops and theaters, but the city's main utility said it had restored most of its power within hours.
- Up to 100 police officers and some members of the National Guard staff were sent to the city to help with traffic control
- As night fell, people were seen using phone torches to make their way through the streets
- There have been reports of people stuck in elevators and subway cars without energy
No deaths or injuries were reported due to the blackout, which officials said began at 18:47 and overshadowed a section of the city from West 42nd Street to West 72nd Street.
"I just flew over the city and most of the lights are back, it's clear: not all the lights are back, it's also clear," said New York governor Andrew Cuomo, in a press conference about five hours into after the beginning of the interruption.
"It's chaotic now in the West Side, certainly."
"At midnight, power was restored to most customers who had lost it," said John McAvoy, CEO of the energy company Con Edison.
More than 73,000 homes and businesses have lost power in the blackout, officials said.
Cries of festivities could be heard in parts of Manhattan as power was restored, bringing lights and air conditioners back to life.
The cause of the interruption was unclear, McAvoy said, adding that "it doesn't seem to be related to excessive load."
Before the restoration of power, a witness in the area had reported hearing a blast at around 7:00 pm, and a spokesman for the city's Fire Department said the crews were at the scene of a transformer fire.
Broadway artists stage a show
The Times Square trails, which are usually crowded with tourists on a warm summer Saturday night, were overflowing, as some Broadway theaters were forced to cancel performances.
The lights of the iconic Radio City Music Hall were dark.
In an attempt to cheer customers, the cast of the musical Come From Away performed a song in front of the stage door.
The members of the Hadestown cast also staged a street-side performance.
The blackout involved the cancellation of several Broadway productions. (Reuters: Jeenah Moon)
With the traffic lights out, cars and taxis blocked intersections while emergency vehicles and firefighters with sirens at full volume tried to pass.
At the height of the blackout, Cuomo said he would send 100 state policemen and some members of the National Guard to the city to help control the traffic.
As darkness fell just before 9:00 pm, people in the Upper West Side were seen using their phone torches to negotiate normally lit streets, while there were reports of people trapped in elevators without power.
The CEO of Con Edison said the blackout does not seem to be due to an "excessive load". (Reuters: Catherine Koppel)
Historical history of New York blackout
New York suffered huge blackouts first, the most recent after the Superstorm Sandy in 2012, as well as the widespread 2003 blackout in the Northeast United States that left much of the city without energy for a day.
Saturday's interruption took place on the 42nd anniversary of a New York blackout that paralyzed the city during a heat wave on July 13, 1977.
The power was not restored until the following day.
The city of New York has already suffered numerous large-scale blackouts. (Reuters: Maria Caspani)
Emerging from a subway station near Central Park before power was restored, Jeff O & Malley, a consultant living in Manhattan, said he was stuck in a subway car for more than an hour.
"We were stuck for about 75 minutes," said 57-year-old O. Malley.
"It's completely dark: people have had to use the torches of their phones to see their way out."
Reportedly, several subway stations have been without electricity during the blackout. (AP: Michael Owens)
The city's metropolitan system had previously said he was working with Con Edison and that the interruption was affecting Midtown and the Upper West Side.
"Several stations are currently without power and are bypassed by all trains," he posted on Twitter.
"At the beginning, people had fun when the lights went out, it was something different," said the shift manager at the Oxbow Tavern on Columbus Avenue and 71st Street, which he refused to give his name.
Extra emergency service forces, including New York police officers, were sent to help with the traffic. (Reuters: Catherine Koppel)
– electricity-energy-e utilities
. (tagToTranslate) new york (t) new york city (t) blackout (t) blackout (t) new york times square (t) firefighters new york city (t) manhattan (t) rockefeller center (t) upper west side (t) hadestown (t) 1977 blackout (t) bill de blasio (t) andrew cuomo