NEW YORK - (AP) - Much of New York was plunged into darkness Monday by a superstorm that overflowed the city's historic waterfront, flooded the financial district and subway tunnels and cut power to nearly a million people.

The city had shut its mass transit system, schools, the stock exchange and Broadway and ordered hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers to leave home to get out of the way of the superstorm Sandy as it zeroed in on the nation's largest city. Residents spent much of the day trying to salvage normal routines, jogging and snapping pictures of the water while officials warned the worst of the storm had not hit.

By evening, a record 13-foot storm surge was threatening Manhattan's southern tip, utilities darkened parts of downtown Manhattan on purpose to avoid storm damage and water started lapping over the seawall in Battery Park City, flooded rail yards and parts of the financial district.

"Now it's really turning into something," said Brian Damianakes, taking shelter in an ATM vestibule and watching a trash can below down the street.

Shortly after the massive storm made landfall in southern New Jersey, Consolidated Edison cut power deliberately to about 6,500 customers in downtown Manhattan to avert further damage. Then, huge swaths of the city went dark, losing power to 250,000 customers in Manhattan, Con Ed spokesman Chris Olert said.

Another 1 million customers lost power earlier Monday in New York City, the northern suburbs and coastal Long Island, where floodwaters swamped cars, downed trees and put neighborhoods under water.

The storm had only killed one New York City resident by Monday night, a man who died when a tree fell on his home in the Flushing section of Queens.

The rains and howling winds, some believed to reach more than 95 mph, left a crane hanging off a luxury high-rise in midtown Manhattan, causing the evacuation of hundreds from a posh hotel and other buildings. Inspectors were climbing 74 flights of stairs to examine the crane hanging from the $1.5 billion.

The facade of a four-story Manhattan building in the Chelsea neighborhood crumbled and collapsed suddenly, leaving the lights, couches, cabinets and desks inside visible from the street. No one was hurt, although some of the falling debris hit a car.