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Contributed by: [name withheld]
Contributed on: January 30, 2001

Which blackout(s) did you experience?
1977 (New York City 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?
My dad, my girlfriend and I were visiting my aunt on Long Island. We just got back from dinner when it began to rain. As we walked along the shore, we noticed it starting to lightning in the distance. My girlfriend and I were going to drive to Suffern the next day. I wanted to get an early start to try and beat the rush hour traffic, so we got up at 4:30am and discovered there was no electricity. We started our journey and found the traffic lights and the street lights not working. We got on the parkway, and I remember how eerie it was with no lights. We missed the exit that would take us to the Tappan Zee bridge, and ended up in Queens.....in the dark.....with my dad's new 1977 Cutlass supreme..... not knowing anything about New York except what I heard about or read about back in Milwaukee. We eventually found our way out of there and headed up to Suffern, arriving just as the sun was rising. I'll never forget the way the sun made the dew on the grass and the trees glisten. So for a 19 year old, it was exciting, scary and memorable. I'm sure it wasn't that way for a lot of people.

Why did the blackouts happen, in your opinion?
A thunderstorm struck a transformer.

What is your opinion regarding the general causes of power failures (blackouts)?
Mechanical failure

Did either blackout seem significant or shocking at the time?
1977 only

Why did you consider the blackout(s) to be significant or insignificant?
see above story

How did the blackout(s) affect you?
see above story

What happened to your perception of the blackout(s) when you heard the news about the full scope of the event(s)?
no comment

How would you compare the blackout(s) to "normal" power failures you have experienced at other times?
Longer lasting

What affect, if any, did the blackout(s) have on your opinion of Consolidated Edison Company?

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:
Yews. I heard about the looting afterward.

Cite as: Anonymous, Story #132, The Blackout History Project, 30 January 2001, <http://blackout.gmu.edu/details/132/>.
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