Brief Power Outage Blackens and Silences UWS, UES and Harlem Early Friday Morning

West 72nd and Columbus. Photographs by Joe Colombo.

The power went off on the Upper West Side, the Upper East Side and Harlem at 5:13 a.m. this Friday morning. It was back on by 5:41 a.m.

Con Edison referred to a problem with its transmission system, but there were few other details about the outage on Friday morning. We’ll update if we hear more.

NEWS | 37 comments | permalink
    1. Marci says:

      The a/c going off woke me up. When I went to check on it, I saw that the whole area was black. It was only out for 20 minutes or so, which is nothing – especially at 5:13 in the morning.

    2. MB/UWSer says:

      Like everything else that is going on, this cannot be written off as a brown out as one has said to me.

      I understand many of the CT neighbors have been without power for days due to the severe winds of the storm, and I am sensitive to that situation.

      For this, there needs to be a truthful explanation for what happened – truth is in the details.

      • R says:

        The truth? Redirecting money to profligate entitlement programs as opposed to reinvesting in the cities/states infrastructure.

        • Anonymous says:

          The government doesn’t pay for utility infrastructure — the utility does, via its ratepayers. In other words, if you want infrastructure improvements to the electric grid, your rates will go up. You good with that?

          “Entitlement programs” have diddly squat to do with utility infrastructure.

    3. MQue says:

      I was stuck in the middle of central park walking the dog, pretty crazy how dark it was

      • West Seventy-Seconder says:

        In Central Park before 6AM?! So this is the lawlessness I keep hearing the comment section fret about.

        • Peter says:

          No, that lawlessness is currently around 79th. Just as we feared. Walk over, stay a while, drink it all in.

    4. Joan says:

      I was up, watching an original Perry Mason rerun on the Sundance channel. Let’s put Paul Drake on it!

    5. B flat says:

      Did anyone else hear a deep motorized sound on west 86th Street, maybe about 2:30ish. Sounded like heavy machinery being moved.

      • lynn says:

        I heard it further downtown on 72nd but it may be so loud that we’re not able to pinpoint the exact location. It sounded like Godzilla was walking making his way through the neighborhood.

      • LesleyB says:

        They’re ripping it up and repaving AGAIN! The DOT site said they were expecting to tear up 86th between RSD & BWY Tues/Wed but seems they’re a few days late. They only got the intersection of 86/WE done so far. No idea when paving will happen. sigh – close the windows.

      • Mr. Bill says:


        • CrankyPants says:

          That is NOT off topic. I heard it too and when the power went out, I assumed it was related to whatever work was being done.

          • UWSmom says:

            Me too, I thought the street crews knocked out or cut a line. Especially because it happened during their shift of 6pm to 6am.

            • UWS marion says:

              I heard it too around 2am, and also figured the power failure was due to whatever was being done on West End Ave. Fortunately, I figured that most people were sleeping, but from the comments I realize that’s not so.

      • MB/UWSer says:

        So I don’t live in your neighborhood. But I can tell you I did hear something similar perhaps to what you mention back in March – 21 days into COVID! In another state! In the wee hours of the morning! And it was unnerving. The I-95 corridor was just two miles from where I stayed. It sounded like a caravan of heavy-weighted vehicles. I asked the housemates if they heard anything and they said no.

        It might be a good idea to check such things out going forward – if possible. It’s getting increasingly harder to ignore things, oddities, etc. The climate is changing in so many ways.

    6. World Peacenik says:

      Wonder what drama would make one think of Godzilla?

    7. World Peacenik says:

      I waken at 5:40AM, so I got an alibi.

    8. Cali says:

      Happy it was only 20 minutes! Dont need to replace anything in the fridge so no complaints here. CT has had no power for days!

      • Nancy Wight says:

        I was trying to make coffee and saw two huge lightning flashes. I was scared frankly. It was completely dark, and I went back to bed. It was really nothing compared to everything else and people who have no power still from the tropical storm.

    9. nycityny says:

      I live in the 60s and was unaffected. Does anybody know the exact areas that were hit? I keep reading the about UWS, UES, Bronx areas but nothing more specific.

    10. I was reading, insomniac that I am. My lamp blinked, and again; my little AC seemed to catch it’s breath, then came back. I thought: I’d better turn off the light & give it up for today, even with this headache.

      Maybe a light and an AC is too much for the grid right now, I thought; it was just the kind of illogical feeling that I tend to act on.

      So I turned off the light, put an ice pack on my forehead and tried to go under. Then the AC whispered to a stop.

      Uh oh. I’m wide awake, watching my clock blink its red SOS. I checked the circuit breakers & the hallway lights, the streets… a little too quiet, even for 5:30am.

      I start to worry about my fridge, my freezer; should I have soup for breakfast before it goes bad?

      I stop, open the window, listen to the light rain for some minutes & lie down: stay in this moment, I told myself; worry about tomorrow when it’s tomorrow.

      I do some acupressure for pain and sleep, I close my eyes.

      The the AC cleared its throat and starts whispering again and I thought: nobody will even mention this ever- except for the West Side Rag; they’ll be the only ones to cover this.

      I was right, too! Except for you, this might’ve been aught but a dream… So thank you.

    11. Sheila Wolk says:

      power was out last night at 87 between CPW and Columbus too…the heat woke me up at 5:00 AM…Didn’t last too long, maybe an hour BUT now I am really nervous for the rest of the summer.
      The temps were not so bad last night but the heat is coming back in a few days in evening…. 🙁

    12. Sheila Wolk says:

      what bothered me the most was right away I called 311 on iPhone and no one answered..I called Con Edison answer… It’s like 911 all over again with TV saying to turn to a certain channel and nothing was there…seems the only ”EMERGENCY” numbers to call or watch are only FICTION …nothing there 🙁

      • MaryC says:

        I too called 311, then ConEd,then gave up.
        It was disappointing but please don’t compare this to an emergency situation. I had to call 911 last week for someone who was ill and the call was answered quickly and efficiently. If the blackout was causing a true emergency for someone, like medical equipment not working, then you should call 911, not 311

    13. South Harlem Resident says:

      Blackout UWS 2020
      A (Very) Short Story

      I awoke with a start. Something was vaguely amiss.

      The clock radio was dark. The fan was off. I tried the bedside lamp; nothing.

      I got out of bed and grabbed my cell phone. It was 5:22am. I turned on my transistor radio to a news station. Within a minute or two a reporter (from her UWS neighborhood) confirmed a power outage, that lights had flickered and power went out about 5:20. The extent was unknown. The cause unknown. Con Ed was going to check it out.

      The minutes went by. I looked out a window; the avenue below was eerily dark, even for the pre-dawn hour. I listened for news updates; the intrepid local reporter confirmed all lights were off at 100th and Broadway and as far as she could see in any direction.

      A resident of the UES was interviewed. He said his power went out but that he didn’t know who else was impacted.

      More minutes went by. My oven clock was flashing. The inside of my refrigerator was dark. I went back into bed to contemplate handling fridge and freezer contents. I found it difficult to focus. I concentrated on the news station but there were no helpful updates.

      I grabbed my cell phone and called the Con Ed hotline. The recording provided precise numbers of outages in each borough – still remaining from the storm that passed through earlier in the week.

      Then, suddenly, I felt a breeze. My fan was spinning again. My bedside clock was flashing. I switched on the lamp: light! I got up and looked out the window: lights!

      My cell phone showed 5:40am. The harrowing experience was over. Those on the UWS (and perhaps elsewhere) who slept through those twenty minutes are the lucky ones.

      The saga of 2020 continues.

      • MAD says:

        A great account of what happened in many neighborhoods yesterday a.m. Thank you! Did Con Ed ever say definitively what the cause was (besides that something went wrong with the transmission of power)? Would love to know!

      • MB/UWSer says:


        And, exactly.

        Unsolved (hidden?) mystery.

    14. sue says:

      Has anyone else lost all Fios service (internet, cable, landline) since the brief blackout? We can’t get through to Verizon, and the service outage website says there are no outages and there are outages (very helpful) in the area.

      • Pete says:

        VERIZON? Worst of the worst,got rid of them several years back..good luck to you

      • lynn says:

        I had the same problem with FIOS a while back (I have Spectrum now) and after agonizing over not being able to reach them a computer tech told me to unplug the modem and router and restart the computer at the same time and it got everything back up and running again.