Power restored after blackout envelopes West Side of Manhattan

Con Edison says the power failure began at 6:47 p.m. and affected 73,000 customers  
July 14, 2019 04:00PM

Power was restored after a blackout enveloped the West Side of Manhattan. (Credit Gabriela Bhaskar | New York Times)

A power outage Saturday night on the West Side of Manhattan dimmed the bright lights of Times Square, knocked out traffic signals at intersections and temporarily trapped people in elevators and subway cars.

Most theaters canceled performances of Broadway shows, and patrons illuminated darkened bars and restaurants with the glow of their cell phones as they drank and dined.

Electrical power started to return around 10 p.m. and was fully restored by midnight.

Con Edison said the power failure began at 6:47 p.m. and affected 73,000 customers for at least three hours, primarily on the West Side of Manhattan from Fifth Avenue to the Hudson River and from 72nd Street to the west 40s.

The electric utility company said the power failure appeared to stem from a substation on West 49th Street, and the impact spread to six power sectors.

Con Edison chairman and CEO John McAvoy said the cause of the power outage may have been mechanical failure but said the cause would remain unknown until the utility finishes investigating the incident.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said an explosion and a fire at a substation led to malfunctioning and a loss of power at other substations.

While campaigning in Iowa, presidential candidate and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said neither terrorism nor criminal activity caused the power outage.

Civilians and police officers combined their efforts to direct traffic at intersections.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority said the power outage affected New York City’s entire subway system.

Ellie Shanahan, 23, told the New York Times that the darkened intersections were shocking, but “people seemed to know what to do. Everyone was being polite, even though there were no lights to tell us when to go.”

Theaters canceled performances of such Broadway shows as “Aladdin,” “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,” “Hadestown” and “Moulin Rouge! The Musical.”

Outside some theaters, performers gave impromptu performances on sidewalks. Cast members of “Waitress,” “Hadestown” and “Come From Away” sang songs from their shows.

Carnegie Hall canceled all performances Saturday night, and Lincoln Center canceled a performance by the Mark Morris Dance Group.

Madison Square Garden canceled a performance by recording artist Jennifer Lopez after the building lost power during her fourth song.

The power outage Saturday night happened exactly 42 years after the longer-lasting 1977 blackout in New York City. [New York Times]Mike Seemuth