23 WTF Pictures From When All The Lights Went Out In NYC

And you think your commute is tough now...

On Aug. 14, 2003, around 4:10 p.m., a widespread power outage struck parts of the Northeast and Midwest, as well as portions of Ontario, Canada. What began as a software bug in the electrical grid of Ohio soon escalated into a catastrophic event that left nearly 45 million Americans without power, ultimately becoming the worst blackout in North American history.

For New York City, the blackout left 600 train cars stuck between stations and many people trapped within the stalled elevators in high rises. With traffic lights nonexistent and the airports shut down, New York City was left in a virtual standstill.

These pictures capture the unfolding scene in New York City during the Northeast blackout of 2003.

Frank Franklin Ii / AP

Cars try to navigate their way through the city.

Michael Lewis / Getty Images

The pitch-black area around Union Square during sunset.

Jason Nevader / WireImage

The subway station at 23rd Street and Sixth Avenue.

Robbie Bailey / AP

Passengers wait inside a stranded subway train.

Getty Images; AP Images

Left: Travelers are lit by an emergency floodlight in Grand Central Station. Right: People evacuate a subway train.


Metropolitan Transit Authority employees help passengers navigate subway tracks after they were evacuated from a train.

Sean M. Thompson / AP

Commuters walk over the Queensborough Bridge with gridlock traffic.


Pedestrians leaving Manhattan flood New York's 59th Street Bridge to Queens.

Chip East / Reuters

A man who passed out after overheating is tended to by police next to Grand Central Terminal.

New York Daily News / Getty Images

Officers try to direct drivers amid massive traffic snarls caused by nonfunctioning signals.

Getty Images

A man accepts a melting ice cream cone during the sweltering heat.

Diane Bondareff / ASSOCIATED PRESS

People line up to buy batteries for their flashlights at a hardware store on the Upper West Side.

Louis Lanzano / AP

Commuters crowd around to board a Midtown Manhattan bus to White Plains, New York.

Peter Morgan / Reuters

Pedestrians leaving downtown Manhattan jam the Brooklyn Bridge.

Shannon Stapleton / Reuters

People flock over the Brooklyn Bridge during the massive power outage.

Patricia Mcdonnell / AP

Stranded travelers sleep on luggage carts at New York's LaGuardia Airport.

Diane Bondareff / ASSOCIATED PRESS

A woman looks over a limited supply of meat at a Gristedes supermarket.

Jeff Christensen / Reuters

A man buys a newspaper outside of New York's Penn Station.

New York Daily News Archive / Getty Images

The Manhattan skyline is dark as the sun comes up the morning after 2003 blackout.