The Great Northeastern Blackout came at the height of the evening rush hour on Nov. 9, 1965, and plunged tens of millions into darkness across the northeastern U.S. and southern Canada for hours.
The nation had never seen a power failure of such scope before, and Cold War tensions instantly stoked fears of sabotage.
The great luminous cities looked as if they had been struck by some awesome tragedy. But reports indicated most people took it all calmly.
Thousands had made their way to the Grand Central Station only to learn that no trains were moving to suburban areas.
At one time, more than 850,000 were trapped in stalled cars in New York's subway system.
. Commuters are helped up from railway tracks in New York by police and firemen in the early morning hours. About 750 passengers had been stuck for nearly eight hours on a stalled northbound train out of the city.
Eight states were involved in the power outage that reminded some Britons of the wartime blackouts.
Nightlife continued in New York despite the blackout, according to an AP report at the time.
"Everybody is acting as though it were New Year's Eve," said Bob Kriendler, the president of the historic 21 Club at the time.
It was soon established that problems with the electrical grid, originating near Niagara Falls, caused the blackout.
. People sit, sleep and wander around the main waiting room of Grand Central Terminal in New York.
Off-duty policemen were called back to work. National Guardsmen in some areas were alerted in case of looting, and convicts at the Massachusetts state prison at Walpole took advantage of the excitement to throw a riot which was quickly quelled.
. Commuters stranded by the power failure settle down for a long wait on the steps of an entrance to the Commodore Hotel in Manhattan.
Power came back on to Boston and other cities hours after the blackout, while New York remained in the dark.
The 1965 blackout was the first large-scale realization of infrastructure worries that would resurface in major blackouts in both 1977 and 2003.