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March 31, 2003
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?
I was living in New Jersey at the time but had travelled to Manhattan with my mother and another friend to visit a friend in a hospital (I don't remember which one). We had gone to dinner afterward, I believe somewhere on the upper east side. The lights in the restaurant went out and one of the waitresses went outside and came back in to tell us all that the city was dark. We were initially very excited and gigglly. But then the waitress complained that someone had stiffed her on a check and that started to make us realize that this was necessarily going to be a fun time. We got back to our car and headed toward the Lincoln Tunnel. Good Samaritans were directing traffic at major intersections. I have one very vivid memory of an hispanic man, directing traffic in the middle of an intersection, and he was wearing a tee-shirt that read "La Luz." How very bizarr! We did not see any looting, but I faintly remember sirens and by the time we reached the tunnel I strongly remember a sense of unease and even forboding.
Why did the blackouts happen, in your opinion?
Too much heat, too little electric.
What is your opinion regarding the general causes of power failures (blackouts)?
Not enough redundancy built into the electric grid.
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?
We are not a people accustomed to loss of control or lack of amenities. We are so spoiled (fortunately) that we just don't expect things to go wrong. The utilities are 99% of the time so reliable that their inevitable failure (they are run by people, after all) is extremely shocking.
How did the blackout(s) affect you?
How would you compare the blackout(s) to "normal" power failures you have experienced at other times?
Much, much larger.
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
Story #196, The Blackout History Project, 31 March 2003, <http://blackout.gmu.edu/details/196/>.
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