In Photos: The Great Blackout of 2003

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Ten years ago today, New York City and a large swath of the Northeast (and Ontario) lost power. At the time, it was the largest blackout in North American history and the second-largest blackout anywhere, ever. The power wouldn't be fully restored to New York for two days — a length of time that looks downright quaint, in retrospect, when compared with last year's Hurricane Sandy blackout. Still, that first day, as sweaty commuters struggled to get home without mass transportation, was one stressful, weird, hot (and actually kind of fun?) day. 

It was not at all fun for the people who were stranded in Manhattan, like these folks in Grand Central who got tired of standing for a train that wasn't coming. 

Stranded travelers try to keep cool in Grand Central Terminal in New York City, Friday, Aug. 15, 2003, as most of the city woke up without electricity for a second day. New York was hit by the largest power blackout in American history. More than 50 million people were affected by the outage, in Toronto, Detroit, Cleveland and New York City. (Photo by Paul Hawthorne/WireImage) Photo: Paul Hawthorne/WireImage

But if they were lucky, they could find some pretty cheap beers. 

People sell beer on the street during a massive blackout August 14, 2003 in New York City. Officials from the Department of Homeland Security said there were no indications that terrorists were responsible for the blackout that has also affected Ohio, and Canada. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

David Eisenberg tried to hitch a ride home to Long Island.

David Eisenberg tries to catch a ride to Long Island as he stands Times Square during the largest power blackout in American history August 14, 2003. More than 50 million people were affected by the outage in Toronto, Detroit, Cleveland and New York City. (Photo by J. Countess/WireImage) Photo: J. Countess/WireImage

Some people were on the subway when the train just ... stopped. And never started again. They got off and walked. 

People walk along the track on the Williamsburg Bridge after their subway train came to a halt when a massive power failure caused the largest power outage in the nation's history, affecting 50 million people in parts of seven states and Canada. Photo: Todd Maisel/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images

Did you know traffic lights run on electricity? Well, they do. You probably should have known that. Anyway, this guy volunteered to help out at an intersection in Brooklyn.

A local chef volunteers to direct traffic at a busy intersection on Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn after a massive power failure on the East Coast has broken all of the traffic lights in New York City. Photo: Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis

The subway was definitely not working, and this MTA employee sat at the entrance in case the pink tape was not enough of a warning. 

MTA worker Charlie Gilbert stands guard at the entrance of the City Hall subway station Photo: Jason Nevader/WireImage

With no subway, no LIRR, and not nearly enough taxis for everyone, a lot of people just walked ...

Pedestrians and traffic leaving downtown Manhattan crossing the Queensboro Bridge after the onset of the largest power blackout in American history, August 14, 2003. More than 50 million people were affected by the outage, in Toronto, Detroit, Cleveland and New York City. Photo: Robin Platzer/FilmMagic

... and walked and walked. 

Pedestrian traffic makes its way across the Brooklyn Bridge during a citywide blackout. Photo: Peter Turnley/Corbis

Brooklyn borough president Marty Markowitz was, obviously, there to great constituents as they crossed the Brooklyn Bridge. 

After a massive power failure has disrupted all transportation, many New York residents return home to Brooklyn by walking across the Brooklyn Bridge.Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz is at the end of the Bridge to greet them. Photo: Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis

Some people walked with candles in cups, as if participating in a vigil. Maybe it was kind of a vigil ... for electricity?

People walk down the street with candles August 14, 2003 during a power outage in New york City. Power went out across the East Coast in the United States Thursday afternoon. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Others were like, "Hey, this seems like a good time for a parade?"

Brooklyn celebrates the Blackout. Photo: Piotr Redlinski/Corbis

Not everybody was enjoying themselves. These commuters were stuck outside Grand Central Terminal late into the night. They never left. They're actually still there today, sitting on the sidewalk. 

Stranded commuters sit outside Grand Central Terminal at 42nd St. after a massive power failure caused the largest power outage in the nation's history, affecting 50 million people in parts of seven states and Canada. Photo: John Roca/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images

These tourists slept on the sidewalk. Tell all your friends about New York!

Tourists sleep on the sidewalk outside the Renaissance Hotel on Broadway the morning after a massive power failure caused the largest power outage in the nation's history, affecting 50 million people in parts of seven states and Canada. Photo: Mike Albans/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images

And yet, spirits remained high. Peachy Garcis, for example, was pumped about finally having an excuse to take a shower in the street.

Peachy Garcis soaps up near a fire hydrant on Ninth Ave. and 25th St. the day after a massive power failure caused the largest power outage in the nation's history, affecting 50 million people in parts of seven states and Canada. Photo: Corey Sipkin/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images