The 3-foot main ruptured around 5 a.m. near Lincoln Center at 63rd Street and Broadway. Water then cascaded into the streets, submerging 61st to 65th streets, between Broadway and Columbus.
The flooding was so bad, at one point water poured into an underground garage attached to 44 W. 62nd St., reaching over the tops of cars. CBS2 has learned at least 52 vehicles were damaged, CBS2's Valerie Castro reported.
Many of the car owners live in the Lincoln Plaza Tower, where the basement took on more than 3 feet of water.
"I came down to the basement and as I'm coming down to the basement in the elevator, the swishing noise of the water is getting louder and louder. I assumed we had a little leak in the basement. I didn't realize the extent of this," Lincoln Plaza Tower board president Michael Groll said.
Megan Boustany lost her vehicle.
"We won't see that again and we have huge storage units with keepsakes that we ... everything we have is basically all underwater," Boustany said.
The city said the rupture also caused significant damage to at least two other buildings in the area, so crews spent much of the day pumping out water.
Crews have been working with FDNY, going building to building. A lot of basements were being pumped out so the damage could be assessed.
"Folks in the buildings may see a little bit of discolored water, just from the shaking of the pipe," Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Vincent Sapienza said. "We urge anyone who sees a little bit of discolored water -- let the water run until it's clear, and DEP will be out taking samples."
Streets remained closed and subways were suspended in the area. Broadway is shut down in both directions between 61st and 72nd street, and the 1, 2 and 3 trains were suspended in both directions between 42nd Street-Times Square and 96th Street. Before 5 p.m. the subway service was restored, the city said.
"The water got to a level where it reached the third rail, where it becomes dangerous to operate trains. So just short of 6 a.m., we shut the power off to all three tracks," MTA Chief Operating Officer-Subways Frank Jezycki said. "We had no impact to our power network, with the exception that we need to remove third rail power to ensure the safety of the employees and the customers who are within the system."
Commuters scrambled to find alternate ways to get around.
"I'm going to be late for work," said one woman. "That's affecting me big time."
"I get on the 1 train and someone tells us to take the buses to the C, D or E train from 145th, because of the water," another woman added. "So we took a bus, then we transferred. Half an hour late."
"What am I supposed to do? I'm going to the Bronx. I'm going to be late for work. MTA, you're a mess," another commuter said.
DEP Commissioner Sapienza told reporters that Broadway will likely be shut down to southbound traffic for a few days.
Anyone who sustained damage can file a claim with the comptroller's office. To do so, click here.
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