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July 22, 2000
Which blackout(s) did you experience?
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 remember the blackout of 1965 very well. I used my annual leave, and I did not work that day. However, I was an evening student at Hunter College. At the time I lived on 163rd Street and Trinity Avenue in the Bronx. I had a class that evening, so somewhere around 5PM I left for Hunter College. I took the 3rd Avenue Elevated Line which was still running at that time. I did not know what was happening, but I knew that something was going wrong with the train. When I reached 149th Street I got my free transfer to the Lexington Avenue Line. The lights began to get dimmer as the train moved along. When we reached 125th Street and Lexinton Avenue we were told to leave the train. We did not know what was going on. We were all looking at each other and wondering what was happening. When I reached the street everything was dark. All lights were out. Everyone was pleasant. I walked from 125th Street and Lexington Avenue to 1st Avenue. I then walked across the Willis Avenue Bridge to Willis Ave in the Bronx. I had no fear. People just walked together in peace and harmony. I walked up Willis Avenue until I reached 3rd Avenue and 149th Street. I continued up 3rd Avene until I reached 163rd Street. I then walked up 163rd Street until I reached Trinity Avenue. My fear came as I neared my building. It was an 18 story co-op. I could only see dark. The was no light. I began to feel fear. However, as I entered my lobby I saw a lone man standing there with a candle. He was a tenant that I recognized. He greeted me. I was glad to see him. I hope that he was given some recognition for being there for us. I then proceded to climb 6 flights of stairs.
I did not run into anyone. My floor was pitch dark. I felt my way to my door. Somehow I found my keys in my and was able to enter my apartment. At that time, I still did not know what was happening. It was much later when finally learned what had happened.
It was a night of peace. There were no robberies or holdups. This was a night when people tried to help each other.
Why did the blackouts happen, in your opinion?
I really do not know? To this day I do not know.
What is your opinion regarding the general causes of power failures (blackouts)?
Maybe the lines are overloaded.
Did either blackout seem significant or shocking at the time?
Both were significant
Why did you consider the blackout(s) to be significant or insignificant?
It was significant because i did not believe that I could walk from Manhattan to the Bronx.
How did the blackout(s) affect you?
Durning the second black I was living in the Northeast section of the Bronx, and I worked in the Hunts Point section of the Bronx. It was very difficult to reach that section of the Bronx. I drove my car. I never new that I would be able to drive in New York City without lights.
What happened to your perception of the blackout(s) when you heard the news about the full scope of the event(s)?
I just could not believe it. I was born and raised in New York City. This was something that I had never considered.
How would you compare the blackout(s) to "normal" power failures you have experienced at other times?
Most of the normal power failures have been of short duration. Some of them only effect certain areas of the city at a time. The blackouts affected everyone, and they lasted long enough to effect everyone.
What affect, if any, did the blackout(s) have on your opinion of Consolidated Edison Company?
It did not affect my opinion of Con Edison.
If you experienced both the 1965 and 1977 blackouts, please compare them (describe the ways in which they were similar/different):
The blackout of 1965 found me in the city streets. I had to get home. During the black of 1977 I was home and had to figure my way to the job. I worked in a Juvenile Detention Center in 1977. I was needed on the job. I had to get there. Therefore, I drove without the benefits of street lights, now that was frightening.
Did the blackout(s) have any larger meaning in your mind?
Yes (please explain)
If yes, please explain:
It showed that we need to be prepared. It showed some Agencies that they needed generators.
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:
I does ring true to me. I experienced the cooperation, love and trust between strangers, in 1965.In 1977 I did not experience the looting and arson. However, I did read about it.
Story #106, The Blackout History Project, 22 July 2000, <http://blackout.gmu.edu/details/106/>.
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