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July 4, 2000
Which blackout(s) did you experience?
1965 (Great Northeast Blackout)
In your own words, tell the story of your experience in the blackout(s). Try to recall specific events and the people, places, and things involved; also include more general reactions, images adn last impressions?
I was 14 and in 10th grade in the Bronx. I'd come home from school and was practicing the piano, which I was required to do for a couple of hours. On this particular evening, I was less than enthusiastic about practicing, and when the lights went out not long after I started a Beethoven sonata in E it was a welcome relief and I was spared. We had candles on hand and (as far as I could tell) my family treated the night like an adventure and went to sleep early. The next day in school we felt badly for our classmate who'd had to walk up 35 flights of stairs, the downside of living in a luxury highrise.
Why did the blackouts happen, in your opinion?
What is your opinion regarding the general causes of power failures (blackouts)?
Greedy utilities and consumers who aren't serious about conservation.
Did either blackout seem significant or shocking at the time?
Why did you consider the blackout(s) to be significant or insignificant?
In 1965, I wasn't negatively affected and was too young and unconcerned to be aware of larger effects. I wasn't in the area in 1977, but the stories of bad behavior associated with that blackout were well-known.
How did the blackout(s) affect you?
In 1965, not much.
What happened to your perception of the blackout(s) when you heard the news about the full scope of the event(s)?
In 1965, I didn't hear much more.
How would you compare the blackout(s) to "normal" power failures you have experienced at other times?
It was less annoying, because I was a kid.
What affect, if any, did the blackout(s) have on your opinion of Consolidated Edison Company?
None at the time, but note that my opinion in 2000 is pretty low.
If you experienced both the 1965 and 1977 blackouts, please compare them (describe the ways in which they were similar/different):
Did the blackout(s) have any larger meaning in your mind?
Did the blackout(s) cause any profound crisis?
How did the blackout(s) affect your daily reliance on electricity?
No effect / same reliance
This is how the story goes: In November of 1965 the lights went out in New York and crime rates temporarily dropped; there were widespread reports of extraordinary cooperation and trust between strangers caught together in the power failure. In July of 1977, little more than a decade later, the lights went out again in New York. This time, a devastating wave of looting and arson broke out. Does this story ring true to you? Explain why or why not:
The 1965 story sounds like what I remember. I wasn't in New York in 1977, but the news was widespread and shocking.
Story #104, The Blackout History Project, 4 July 2000, <http://blackout.gmu.edu/details/104/>.
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