The Slatest

Blackout in Manhattan: Broadway and Times Square Go Dark

A large section of Manhattan's Upper West Side, viewed from above during the blackout.
Dark lights, big city.
Scott Heins/Getty Images

Manhattan’s West Side went dark on Saturday night as a power outage hit roughly 62,000 Con Edison customers, the New York Times reports. The failure was reportedly caused by a mechanical issue at a ConEd substation on West 49th street, and power was out in an area bounded by West 72nd St., Fifth Avenue, West 42nd St., and the Hudson River. Con Edison says that power should be restored for most customers by midnight.

The lights of Times Square were dark and Broadway theaters cancelled performances, as unlucky New Yorkers found themselves trapped in subways and elevators. Broadway casts did what they could to offer consolation prizes to disappointed theatergoers; Hadestown star (and footwear tastemaker) André De Shields improvised a blackout-themed version of one of the show’s songs—with trombone accompaniment, no less—outside the Walter Kerr Theatre:

Carnegie Hall, which cancelled all of the evening’s performances, stepped up too. As writer Briallen Hopper documented, the venue hosted an impromptu outdoor concert, presumably from Millennial Choirs and Orchestras, a choir organization that was scheduled to perform Saturday night:

In Madison Square Garden, a Jennifer Lopez concert was also cancelled and the venue was evacuated. There are no reports of Lopez belting out “Jenny From the Block” on 8th Avenue, but she did post a video apology for cancelling the show. Here’s what it looks like when Madison Square Garden gets evacuated:

On the streets, civilians stepped up where traffic lights failed, directing cars and keeping the streets moving while the police worked on rescue operations:

At least some of the power has already been restored; Con Edison announced that five of six sectors affected by the outage had been repaired. Jason Mante captured the moment the lights came back on at one intersection:

The blackout happened on the 42nd anniversary of the 1977 New York City blackout, which affected nearly the entire city and possibly kickstarted hip-hop music. We’ll have to wait a few years to see what musical movements spring from the 2019 blackout, but early signs point toward a cappella choral music and plenty of trombone.