The East: Darkness at Noon

In Philadelphia, 1,500 subway riders stumbled through darkness from their stalled trains beneath the city where Benjamin Franklin started it all by attracting a bolt of lightning with kite and key. In Menlo Park, N.J., on the spot where Thomas Alva Edison invented the light bulb, an "eternal light" winked out for an instant before an emergency generator restored its glow.

From Hackensack to Pottstown, Lock Haven to Dover, the power lines went dead for up to nine daylight hours throughout a 15,000-sq.-mi. chunk of the East. More than 13 million people, living in three-quarters of New Jersey, much of...

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