Parts of midtown Manhattan were slowed to a crawl tonight as a widespread power outage affected a busy swath of New York City. Some of the city’s typically most bustling neighborhoods—including sections of the theater district, Times Square, and the Upper West Side—were left without power, and a number of subway lines were forced to either skip stations or halt operations.
Con Edison, the city’s power supplier, said on Twitter it was responding to the situation, although for many residents and tourists trapped in the darkness, it was not responding quickly enough.
We are responding to extensive outages on the Westside of Manhattan. We will share more information as it comes in. Thank you.
— Con Edison (@ConEdison) July 13, 2019
As of late Saturday evening, the company’s live outage map indicated some 724 outages, affecting more than 45,000 customers and growing.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said the outages were believed to be the result of a manhole fire earlier today. In an interview with CNN, he was quick to shoot down speculation that the disruption was due to terrorism or another nefarious act.
Pictures and videos on social media showed befuddled crowds snaking along dark Manhattan sidewalks as the hashtag #blackout trended on Twitter.
— bryanna (@bryannanickel) July 13, 2019
The blackout also affected a number of Broadway shows, with some theaters delaying their productions and halting admission, according to the Broadway League. Some casts later took it upon themselves to perform songs for fans outside the theaters.
Ironically, the incident took place on the anniversary of the famous New York City blackout of 1977, as many Twitter observers pointed out.
Update: At about 1 a.m. on Sunday morning, Con Ed said it had restored power to all customers affected by the blackout, a number that had ballooned to 72,000 customers, compared to initial reports of about 20,000. The company now said it was focused on investigating the cause of the disruption.