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Life Magazine, Vol. 59 No. 2 (19 November 1965).

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THEY HAD DESTINATIONS BUT NO PLACE TO GO

At 5:28 p.m. New York winked out as if someone had pulled the plug of a Christmas tree. The great city of the sparkling skyline and glittering avenues went black -- suddenly revealing an alien beauty of stone and steel looming dark against the sky. Then a full moon rose to light a city beset by the most massive power failure in history.

Somewhere to the north there was a breakdown in the complex power network that channels electricity to 30 million people who live in the densely populated area from New York to Canada and from Lake Huron to Boston (see map, p.52). Those living in the 80,000 square miles affected found themselves deprived of the very energy which sustains an urban civilization. But even in New York, the biggest, most vulnerable and most dependent city of all these, there was no panic when the lights went out. A sort of gay, school's-out spirit prevailed. But it was a nervous gaiety, tingled with genuine worry: if the darkness went on too long, the whole fabric of life might fall apart. At last the lights did come on again--and New Yorkers went back to their accustomed lives, dazed by the extraordinary adventure which Theodore H. White recounts on page 46B.

GRAND CENTRAL JAM-UP. An odd, bluish glow from police emergency floods showed a famous station ina strange new light as passengers with no hope for trains sadly milled about.

 

STRANDED. Exhausted commuters snoozed in a coach they knew would not leave the station. Nearly 100,000 were left high, dry and absolutely homeless by the sudden power failure

 

LIFE, Vol. 59 No. 2 (November 19, 1965)
Copyright 1965 Time, Inc.
Photos: Ted Russell
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