News When NYC went dark in 1965: The Great Northeast Blackout in photos By CRISTIAN SALAZAR Updated November 6, 2015 7:22 AM Print Share fbShare Tweet Email It was the mother of all blackouts, plunging the city into an immobilizing darkness that would last for hours. At about 5:27 p.m. on Nov. 9, 1965, a colossal power failure spread through the Northeast. While it lasted only one night, the Great Blackout of 1965 would profoundly affect how Americans viewed the vulnerability of their cities' power systems. Electricity was knocked out for about 30 million people in about a half-dozen states including New York and two Canadian provinces. In the city, more than 800,000 people were stranded on paralyzed subway trains underground, on bridges and between stations. Thousands more were stuck hundreds of feet above ground in disabled, stifling elevator cars. Meanwhile, teams of citizens helped police direct traffic and travelers at the city's major airports watched runway lights go off and their chances of catching their flights dim. The National Guard was called out. In spite of this all, the city did not unravel in violence and looting. Many subway riders walked along darkened tracks to the next station and exited; elevators had safety devices that allowed them to be lowered quickly so that passengers could be let out. By about 3:35 a.m., power was restored to midtown Manhattan. Some parts of Brooklyn and Staten Island never lost power. A survey taken of New Yorkers following the blackout found that "there is no evidence that they perceived any real or potential threat in the situation." The cause of the blackout was a faulty relay in Ontario, Canada, that sent a surge of power south that overloaded transmission lines. Here are rare images from the blackout, showing how New Yorkers survived a night they would probably never forget. Photo Credit: Newsday / John Curran Commuters at Penn Station in Manhattan line up to use the pay phones as they try to figure out how they will get home during the blackout on Nov. 9, 1965. Photo Credit: Newsday / John Curran On November 9, 1965, just about the only way to hear the latest news of the blackout was on a small transistor radio. Here four men on W 42nd Street lean in to hear the broadcast. Photo Credit: Newsday file photo Three passengers take a free ride on a New York City bus on November 9, 1965 as a power blackout darkened the city streets. Photo Credit: Newsday / Jim Cavanagh Stranded commuters wait out the blackout at the Park Avenue Armory on November 9, 1965. Governor Nelson Rockefeller had called up the 42nd infantry division in response to the emergency. Blackout in 1965: Commuters scramble to get home Photo Credit: Newsday / John Curran A large searchlight illuminates Penn Station in Manhattan as commuters try to figure out how they'll get home during the blackout on Nov. 9, 1965. Photo Credit: Newsday / Bill Senft Police direct traffic away from the entrance to the Midtown Tunnel, which was closed due to the blackout on Nov. 9, 1965. Photo Credit: Newsday / John Curran A searchlight illuminates Seventh Avenue in front of Penn Station in Manhattan as commuters look for rides home during the blackout on Nov. 9, 1965. Photo Credit: Newsday / Jim Maguire Passengers aboard an Air Canada jetlineron the runway at JFK Airport socialize while sitting out the blackout that hit at 5:30pm on November 9, 1965, just as the plane was scheduled to leave for Montreal. Photo Credit: Newsday / Jim Cavanagh Emergency police work to free passengers stuck in an elevator in a building on East 32nd street during the blackout on November 9, 1965. Blackout in 1965: JFK Airport taxi lines Photo Credit: Newsday / Jim Maguire Air travelers line up for taxis at John F. Kennedy International Airport in Queens during the blackout on Nov. 9, 1965. Photo Credit: Newsday / Jim Cavanagh During the blackout on November 9, 1965, hotel rooms were scarce in Manhattan and many would-be guests were forced to spend the night in places like the lobby of the Hotel Commodore on 42nd Street and Lexington Avenue. Photo Credit: Newsday / Marvin Sussman The clock above the bank opposite the LIRR station in Jamaica stopped at the time of the blackout on Nov. 9, 1965. Chemical Bank is now JPMorgan Chase Bank. Blackout in 1965: Red Cross helps out Photo Credit: Newsday / Marvin Sussman A Red Cross wagon offers coffee to stranded passengers at the LIRR station in Jamaica, Queens, during the blackout on Nov. 9, 1965. Blackout in 1965: Stranded commuters Photo Credit: Newsday / Jim Cavanagh Stranded commuters take advantage of a new car on display in the lobby of Grand Central Terminal during the blackout on Nov. 9, 1965. Photo Credit: Newsday / Homer Hartness During the November 9, 1965 blackout, air traffic in and out of JFK Airport was suspended. Here, Homer Hartness of Dover, Delaware holds his one-year-old daughter Denise as he checks the status of a flight that was bringing his wife back from London. Photo Credit: Newsday / Marvin Sussman Passengers exit a stalled train on the LIRR tracks in Jamaica during the blackout on Nov. 9, 1965. The embankment led to the street below. Photo Credit: Newsday / Jim Maguire On November 9, 1965, the blackout caused the cancellations of many flights out of New York City, such as the Air Canada flight one this woman had boarded at JFK Airport earlier in the day, bound for Montreal. Photo Credit: Newsday / Marvin Sussman Two National Guardsmen on duty stand outside the Armory in Jamaica during the blackout on Nov. 9, 1965. Photo Credit: Newsday / Jim Cavanagh National Guardsmen from the 42nd (Rainbow) Division direct traffic at the intersection of 32nd Street and Park Avenue during the blackout on November 9, 1965. Photo Credit: Newsday / John Curran Weary commuters waiting for trains back to Long Island sleep on the floor of Penn Station in Manhattan during the blackout on Nov. 9, 1965. By CRISTIAN SALAZAR Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Comments We're revamping our Comments section. Learn more and share your input.