Great Northeast Blackout of Long Island in 1965

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The Great Northeast Blackout on Nov, 9, 1965 plunged most of Long Island into darkness, along with about 30 million people in the eastern United States and part of Canada. The power outage came during the evening rush hour. Nearly 800,000 people were stuck in New York City subway cars, while on Long Island, emergency personnel scrambled to direct traffic, treat hospital patients and otherwise maintain order without electricity. The outage lasted about 12 hours. Its cause was determined to be human error at a power plant in Ontario. The blackout inspired the 1967 Doris Day movie, "Where Were You When the Lights Went Out?" and a spike in the birthrate nine months later that is the stuff of urban legends. Take a look back at how Long Island coped that night with these photos culled from Newsday's archives.

Vehicles move slowly along 42nd Street in Manhattan
(Credit: AP / Robert Goldberg)

Vehicles move slowly along 42nd Street in Manhattan after the city was plunged into darkness on by a massive power outage Nov. 9, 1965. The time lapse photo looks east, between Park Avenue and Lexington Avenue.

Commuters who had been trapped on trains for
(Credit: AP)

Commuters who had been trapped on trains for nearly eight hours are helped up from tracks by police and firemen in the early morning hours of Nov. 10, 1965. Some 750 passengers were on a northbound train from Grand Central Terminal that became stuck at 153rd Street and Park Avenue when the blackout occurred.

Stranded commuters make the best of the situation
(Credit: AP / John Lent)

Stranded commuters make the best of the situation under emergency lighting in the main waiting room of Grand Central Terminal on Nov. 9, 1965, during the massive power failure that plunged tens of millions into darkness across the northeastern United States and southern Canada 50 years ago. In New York City, the blackout came at 5:27 p.m., at the height of the evening commute, trapping hundreds of thousands of subway riders in their train cars, stranding others in building elevators.

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Diners eat by candlelight in a Manhattan Automat
(Credit: AP)

Diners eat by candlelight in a Manhattan Automat during a massive blackout 50 years ago. In New York City, it came at 5:27 p.m. on Nov. 9, 1965, the height of the evening commute, stranding commuters and subway riders, as well as those in elevators.

Some Manhattan buildings had emergency power and they
(Credit: AP)

Some Manhattan buildings had emergency power and they glowed right through the massive Nov. 9, 1965 blackout that affected not only New York City but also the Northeast and southern Canada. This photo was taken from Queens across the East River.

Blackout in 1965: Commuters scramble to get home

A large searchlight illuminates Penn Station in Manhattan
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(Credit: Newsday / John Curran)

A large searchlight illuminates Penn Station in Manhattan as commuters try to figure out how they'll get home during the blackout on Nov. 9, 1965.

A searchlight illuminates Seventh Avenue in front of
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(Credit: Newsday / John Curran)

A searchlight illuminates Seventh Avenue in front of Penn Station in Manhattan as commuters look for rides home during the blackout on Nov. 9, 1965.

Visitors at Nassau Hospital in Mineola sit in
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(Credit: Newsday / Dick Morseman)

Visitors at Nassau Hospital in Mineola sit in a nearly dark waiting room during the blackout on Nov. 9, 1965.

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Two Farmingdale State University students complete their lab
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(Credit: Newsday / Dick Kraus )

Two Farmingdale State University students complete their lab reports with the help of the gas-generated lights coming from the Farmingdale Meat Market on Main Street during the blackout on Nov. 9, 1965. The store was closed, but Gary Laffer, 19, of Little Neck, Queens, and Michael Lederman, 17, of the Bronx, set up a typewriter on the hood of a car parked outside to get their work done.

Retired Air Force Gen. Joseph Bolger, director of
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(Credit: Newsday / Dick Morseman)

Retired Air Force Gen. Joseph Bolger, director of Nassau County Civil Defense, works during the blackout on Nov. 9, 1965, at civil defense headquarters in Mineola.

Police direct traffic at the intersection of Hempstead
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(Credit: Newsday / Dick Kraus)

Police direct traffic at the intersection of Hempstead Turnpike and Jerusalem Avenue in Levittown during the blackout on Nov. 9, 1965.

All but the marquee of the Mineola Theater
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(Credit: Bob Drennan)

All but the marquee of the Mineola Theater was darkened during the blackout on Nov. 9, 1965.

The clock above the bank opposite the LIRR
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(Credit: Newsday / Marvin Sussman)

The clock above the bank opposite the LIRR station in Jamaica stopped at the time of the blackout on Nov. 9, 1965. Chemical Bank is now JPMorgan Chase Bank.

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Blackout in 1965: Red Cross helps out

A Red Cross wagon offers coffee to stranded
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(Credit: Newsday / Marvin Sussman)

A Red Cross wagon offers coffee to stranded passengers at the LIRR station in Jamaica, Queens, during the blackout on Nov. 9, 1965.

Police direct traffic during the blackout with the
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(Credit: Newsday / Dick Kraus)

Police direct traffic during the blackout with the aid of lights from a fire truck at the intersection of Hempstead Turnpike and Jerusalem Avenue in Levittown on Nov. 9, 1965.

Weary commuters waiting for trains back to Long
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(Credit: Newsday / John Curran)

Weary commuters waiting for trains back to Long Island sleep on the floor of Penn Station in Manhattan during the blackout on Nov. 9, 1965.

Nassau Community College student Michele Cohen does her
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(Credit: Newsday / Bill Senft)

Nassau Community College student Michele Cohen does her homework by candlelight at home in Valley Stream during the blackout on Nov. 9, 1965.

A sentry checks reservists reporting for duty at
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(Credit: Newsday / Jim Nightingale)

A sentry checks reservists reporting for duty at the Hempstead Armory during the blackout on Nov. 9, 1965.

Reservists report for duty at the Hempstead Armory
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(Credit: Newsday / Jim Nightingale)

Reservists report for duty at the Hempstead Armory during the blackout on Nov. 9, 1965.

Commuters at Penn Station in Manhattan line up
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(Credit: Newsday / John Curran)

Commuters at Penn Station in Manhattan line up to use the pay phones as they try to figure out how they will get home during the blackout on Nov. 9, 1965.

Linda Keet, of Northport, does her homework by
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(Credit: Newsday / Walter del Toro)

Linda Keet, of Northport, does her homework by candelabra on the night of the blackout, Nov. 9, 1965.

In response to the blackout on Nov. 9,
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(Credit: Newsday / Dick Morseman)

In response to the blackout on Nov. 9, 1965, ham radio operator Richard Dillman, 22, of Westbury, and Frank Bock, 17, of Elmont, work on a wet cell battery at the Nassau County Civil Defense headquarters in Mineola.

A view inside the communication room at Suffolk
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(Credit: Newsday / Rex Lyons)

A view inside the communication room at Suffolk County police headquarters in Hauppauge during the blackout on Nov. 9, 1965.

Patrolman Wayne Snow uses flares to direct traffic
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(Credit: Newsday / Walter del Toro)

Patrolman Wayne Snow uses flares to direct traffic at the intersection of Larkfield and Pulaski roads in East Northport during the blackout on Nov. 9, 1965.

Ronald Pleta, juror examiner at the Nassau County
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(Credit: Newsday / Dick Morseman)

Ronald Pleta, juror examiner at the Nassau County Courthouse in Mineola, gets forms ready for prospective jurors under lantern lights during the blackout on Nov. 9, 1965.

Doctors and interns stand at the front desk
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(Credit: Newsday / Dick Morseman)

Doctors and interns stand at the front desk at Nassau Hospital in Mineola during the blackout on Nov. 9, 1965. The hospital's communication system was knocked out, so staff had to gather there and wait for their assignments.

Passengers exit a stalled train on the LIRR
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(Credit: Newsday / Marvin Sussman)

Passengers exit a stalled train on the LIRR tracks in Jamaica during the blackout on Nov. 9, 1965. The embankment led to the street below.

Two National Guardsmen on duty stand outside the
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(Credit: Newsday / Marvin Sussman)

Two National Guardsmen on duty stand outside the Armory in Jamaica during the blackout on Nov. 9, 1965.

Richard Jost, Pat Hester and Hank Sims work
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(Credit: Newsday / Bill Senft)

Richard Jost, Pat Hester and Hank Sims work to start the generator at the municipal electric plant in Rockville Centre during the blackout on Nov. 9, 1965.

At Nassau Hospital in Mineola, corridors were lit
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(Credit: Newsday / Dick Morseman)

At Nassau Hospital in Mineola, corridors were lit by emergency lighting during the blackout on Nov. 9, 1965. Here, registered nurse Mary Lampert of Plainview carries a portable light into a patient's room.

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