The Great Blackout of 2003

At approximately 4:20 PM EST on August 14, 2003 the power went out in New York City. Soon it was known that it was not just in Manhattan but in much of the northeastern United States, affecting an estimated population of 50 million people. The photos below were taken during my walk home from downtown Manhattan to the Park Slope district of Brooklyn, approximately 3.5 miles.

Broad Street in downtown Manhattan around 5:30 PM. Still hundreds of people coming out of their office buildings. Upon realizing the blackout isn’t temporary, they start walking north to the Brooklyn Bridge and points beyond to get home. The subway trains are not running.

FDR highway on the east side of Manhattan. Logjam of cars going south to Brooklyn, very few going north.

Thousands upon thousands of people trudging back to their homes in Brooklyn, many of them soaked in sweat. At the bottom of the bridge, the police were passing out paper Dixie cups and had several pallets of 5-gallon water containers, which were quickly disappearing.

The pedestrian walkway on Brooklyn Bridge is completely bottlenecked so people are walking back to the start, climbing over the barrier that separates the road from the walkway and start walking towards Brooklyn between the standstill cars heading into Manhattan. Brooklyn Bridge is completely taken over by pedestrians. No more cars are seen. On the Brooklyn side police cars and vans have finally blocked the car entrances.

I live in the Park Slope district of Brooklyn. Last night around 10:00 PM I could see lights on in parts of Manhattan and New Jersey. At 4:30 AM, after a restless night of sweating and sleeping, my power came back on.

As of 10:00 AM Reports from colleagues in Midtown are that he power is still out there and very few people are expected to go to work today.

Final Thought: New York City was flash-mobbed yesterday. The instructions were to “leave your office building between 4:10 and 4:20 PM and walk home. Await there for further instructions.”

More reports from New Yorkers:

» Grant Barrett has an excellent write-up and photos. And Part 2. (The shots above are the only ones I was able to take because my digital camera’s battery died somewhere on Brooklyn Bridge. See links below for more photo galleries.)

» Paul Ford: As Brooklyn Slowly Drunkened.

» Zeldman: 29 Hours. “The whole world had left work and was wondering how it would get home and what was happening, anyway.”

» Amy’s scary account of being trapped on the Q train for two hours.

» Gabriel Hollombe was in the men’s room taking a leak when the power went out.

» David Wertheimer also managed to blog by dial-up on the evening of the 14th. Old-skool!

» Careicthus played Monopoly by candlelight.

» lornagrl: The long walk home…

» Textamerica’s moblie phone blog of the Great Blackout.

» My twin brother Damien walked home from Columbia University on West 168th Street in Manhattan to Carroll Gardens in Brooklyn, approximately 15 miles.

» Gina walked past Whoopi Goldberg talking on her cell phone. (How can Whoopi’s cell phone work when everybody else’s phones wouldn’t? I was only able to get one call through the entire afternoon.)

» Gothamist: NYC Blackout Edition. (Great photos!)

» Jason Kottke’s first-person report.

» TooMuchSexy: Electricity, Nectar of the Gods

» Metrocake: I’m hoooome….

» Mark Shewmaker: “The city had become a party.

» Chris notes that the Brooklyn Bridge was swaying six inches in the middle. (I noticed this too but chalked it up to possible heat-stroke. Glad to see I wasn’t imagining things. It felt a litlte bit like being drunk but without the dullness of alcohol built in.)

» Uffish: What do you do when you’re at a job interview and the power goes out?

» Patrick Nielsen Hayden: Chinese Food by Flashlight

» John Wehr’s excellent photo gallery.

» Andrew Raff has some more photos.

» Cap’n Design has a photo gallery.

» Satan’s Laundromat also has a great set of photos.

» Jesse Chan-Norris also has a photo gallery.

» Adam Fields has a large photo gallery.

» Robert Spychala’s photo gallery.

» The Fray is collecting Blackout Stories. The first is “The Blackout” by Dori Mondon. Adding your own story is encouraged.

Posted by Cameron Barrett at August 15, 2003 10:29 AM

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *