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May 20, 2002
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 1977 Blackout more vividly as I was older. Spent the time with my best friend at the time. We lived in a housing complex call Co-op City in the northeast Bronx. We climbed the stairs of a 32 story apartment building to reach his apartment and watched from his balcony. It was very surreal and quiet, nobody was really on the strets late in the evening. You could see an occassional person walking with a flashlight and candlelit apartments. We went out on the roof and could see to Manhattan and Westchester. We even got to see the lights come back on in sections as power was restored.
Why did the blackouts happen, in your opinion?
Act of god and foolishness of man. At both times didn't really matter. It was just a completely different New York experience.
What is your opinion regarding the general causes of power failures (blackouts)?
Equipment failure, lack of redundant systems.
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?
Caused everyone to stop and slow down a bit. Changes the pace of New York life, at least for the moment.
How did the blackout(s) affect you?
No major affect. Just left with the memories.
What happened to your perception of the blackout(s) when you heard the news about the full scope of the event(s)?
I was amazed that such a thing could happen.
How would you compare the blackout(s) to "normal" power failures you have experienced at other times?
Larger scope, more people effected. The experience became a shared experience.
What affect, if any, did the blackout(s) have on your opinion of Consolidated Edison Company?
If you experienced both the 1965 and 1977 blackouts, please compare them (describe the ways in which they were similar/different):
Memories of the '65 blackout are limited. I was only nine. Have more memories of the 77 since I was pretty much on my own.
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:
Not really, both times I was unaffected. The radio reports during 1977 were more troubling, but the problems were not in the area that I was in.
Story #162, The Blackout History Project, 20 May 2002, <http://blackout.gmu.edu/details/162/>.
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