The view north from 69th Street on Manhattan’s West Side, near Lincoln Center. Neighborhoods north of 72nd Street did not lose power. Photo by Sally Hammel
NEW YORK — In terms of sheer size and duration, the 2019 NYC Blackout was minuscule compared to the 1977 blackout that hit the whole city exactly 42 years earlier. It also struck on July 13, 42 years earlier, and continued to the next day, whereas in 2019, the lights came back on within about three hours.
Even so, for New York’s busy live entertainment scene, the outage caused by a mid-town Manhattan transformer fire was a bulls-eye hit, turning Times Square, Broadway theaters, Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Rockefeller Center and Madison Square Garden dark just before 7 p.m. on a mid-summer Saturday night.
While the 2019 outage was hardly a welcome event — especially for Jennifer Lopez, who had to postpone an eagerly awaited homecoming show at Madison Square Garden — the general mood was bright as cast members for hit shows like Hamilton and Hadestown immediately took to the streets and performed musical numbers for the crowds outside.
In 1977, by contrast, the blackout hit after the city had already been in the grip of a massive heat wave, and with millions of residents on edge as the city was sinking toward bankruptcy and jittery over the random violence of the Son of Sam killer who was still on the loose. By the time the lights came on two days later, looting and arson destroyed or damaged more than 1,600 stores, more than a thousand buildings had burned and police had hauled in more that 3,700 suspects in the largest mass arrest in U.S. history.
In the 2019 event, regular citizens stepped in to help direct traffic, and street crowds cheered the Millennial Choir outside Carnegie Hall. Choral members may have been crestfallen to have been robbed of their chance to perform at the iconic venue, but they nevertheless filled the city’s streetscape with song as the last of the sun’s rays — and the city’s natural light for the day — faded into twilight.
By July 14, 2019, with the power restored, all Broadway productions were expected to be performed as scheduled, and while most Broadway productions the night before got canceled, several, including Beetlejuice, Beautiful, Burn This and Be More Chill, were able to be staged despite the power problems, according to reports. Ticket-holders to the canceled shows, meanwhile, were promised refunds.
The original article can be found here: http://plsn.com/newsroom/all-news/nyc-centers-for-live-entertainment-go-dark-in-july-13-blackout/
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