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New Yorkers Made The Best Of A Massive Blackout With Sidewalk Performances, A Cookout, And Streetside Hangouts

Resilient New Yorkers knew how to make the most of a dark situation.

Posted on July 14, 2019, at 11:05 a.m. ET

Michael Owens / AP

Screens in Times Square turned black during a widespread power outage.

A massive blackout hit Manhattan's West Side just before 7 p.m. Saturday, leaving tens of thousands of New Yorkers in the dark.

The outage halted subways and cut power to elevators, streetlights, and the iconic billboards in Times Square. Around 72,000 customers were affected for about three hours, Con Edison said in a press release. The power company told the New York Times that the outage was due to a problem at a substation — but that the cause would not be clear until an investigation was completed.

People flooded the streets, passengers in downed subway cars and elevators were stuck for a time, and traffic went to an even slower-than-usual crawl.

Timothy A. Clary / AFP / Getty Images

People celebrated on Sixth Avenue after the lights came back on late Saturday.

Still, resilient New Yorkers knew how to make the most of a dark situation.

Since the outage happened an hour before curtain time for many Broadway shows, from Hamilton to The Lion King, theaters had to cancel — leading to sidewalk performances from wildly talented cast members trying to cheer up their disappointed audiences and passersby.

Like André De Shields, who plays Hermes in Hadestown, who sang a blackout-themed impromptu number based on “Road to Hell,” the Broadway show’s opening song.

When the NYC #blackout hit the Walter Kerr tonight, André and the company had to take this party to the streets! (🎥: @misskimizzo) #Hadestown #Broadway

Or the cast of Hamilton, who serenaded a crowd from the windows of the Richard Rodgers Theatre.

@cnn @HamiltonMusical was cancelled due to the blackout. The cast sang to us from above the Rodgers Theater in NY. It was awesome!

The cast of Waitress sang to a crowded street while waiting for the official announcement that their show would be canceled.

The cast of @WaitressMusical entertaining stalled theatergoers outside during the NYC blackout. (via @meganrgaffney) #Blackout #NYCBlackout

At the Come From Away venue, the cast and the band performed the show's opener, "Welcome to the Rock."

Impromptu performance #broadwayblackout @wecomefromaway

And as the sun went down on the city, a concert suddenly started in the middle of the street outside an evacuated Carnegie Hall.

I guess this is what they call a New York moment. After being trapped on the F for an hour because of the power outage I emerged to see dark restaurants & traffic lights, civilians directing traffic, & an evacuated Carnegie Hall concert happening in the street. #nyc #Blackout

The cast of Rock of Ages, an off-Broadway production, launched into parts of their show for confused audience members outside their theater.

How @RockOfAges handled the #NYCblackout, tonight! The show must go on, right?! 🤘🏼🎸

Martine Sainvil, a spokesperson for the Broadway League, told BuzzFeed News in an email that ticket holders could check their point of purchase for information about refunds and exchanges. Theaters were currently checking equipment, and the status of Sunday's shows would be announced soon, she added.

In the city's famous Times Square, billboards had their blinding advertisements put out, and traffic lights went dark.

Times Square is down, i repeat, Times Square is down. This is not a drill!! #Blackout #NYC

Meanwhile, regular people started to direct traffic while waiting for the police to assume their stations at chaotic intersections.

Found the cops!! And more civilians directing traffic. Way to step up citizens of NYC. #blackout

Strangely enough, the blackout happened the same date as the city's large power failure in 1977. So a new generation of New Yorkers learned how to deal with suddenly being in the dark — like these guys having a cookout on a newspaper box.

#Blackout getting strange: 3 guys were trying to cook hot dogs over tiny flame atop ⁦@amNewYork⁩ box

ConEd said it got the last of six electrical networks back in service shortly before midnight.

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    Davey Alba is a senior technology reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York. While working for BuzzFeed News, she won the 2019 Livingston Award for international reporting.

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