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Long Island

Great Northeast Blackout of Long Island in 1965

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
Photo 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
Photo 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
Photo 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.

Diners eat by candlelight in a Manhattan Automat
Photo 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
Photo 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
Photo 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
Photo 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
Photo Credit: Newsday / Dick Morseman

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

Two Farmingdale State University students complete their lab
Photo 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
Photo 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
Photo 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
Photo 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
Photo 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.

Blackout in 1965: Red Cross helps out

A Red Cross wagon offers coffee to stranded
Photo 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
Photo 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
Photo 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
Photo 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
Photo 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
Photo 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
Photo 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
Photo 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,
Photo 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
Photo 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
Photo 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
Photo 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
Photo 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
Photo 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
Photo 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
Photo 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
Photo 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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