New York City may be known as the city that never sleeps, but that doesn’t mean it can’t go dark.
On Saturday, a Con Edison power failure resulted in a blackout that affected 72,000 customers in the heart of Manhattan. The power outage stopped subway trains in their tracks, stalled elevators and knocked out traffic lights, while the billboards in Times Square went dark and 26 Broadway shows were canceled.
But the five-hour blackout was not the first to hit the city, nor was it the biggest. Read on for a brief history of blackouts in New York City.
A 500-block area of Manhattan near Central Park was plunged into darkness on Aug. 3, 1959, when a massive surge in electrical use triggered a power outage, according to a Time magazine report. About 500,000 people were affected by the blackout, which was reported to last about 13 hours.
“When the lights went on, the city congratulated itself that there had been no panic and little misbehavior,” Time wrote in its August 1959 issue. “In an area where crime incidence is fairly high, police reported only a few misdemeanors and a couple of picked pockets.”
Another uptick in electricity usage is believed to have caused a blackout in Manhattan on June 13, 1961, which affected about 500,000 people across 5 square miles of the borough, according to The New York Times. The outage spurred changes to better protect the city’s power grid from future blackouts, according to The Times.