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Contributed by: cris van duuren
Contributed on: July 17, 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?
My husband was an intern at New York infirmary hospital on E. 15th street and I was home in our apartment across the street. We were going to get married the next day at city hall. I'm not sure exactly what time it happened but I would guess around nine or ten at night the city went completely dark and the hospital generators came on. It was very hot for a few days. Needless to say we did not get married the next day because of the chaos, subways not running and all of the looting. The elevators weren't working and you needed a flashlight to get up and down the stairs. It was something. We got married on the 15th and it turned out badly. I should have read the signs. He also told me that all of his patients had fevers because of the heat. What a year it was, Saturday Night Fever and Son Of Sam.

Why did the blackouts happen, in your opinion?
Too much electricity being used because of the heat.

What is your opinion regarding the general causes of power failures (blackouts)?
same as above except for high winds with hurricanes etc.

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?
Whenever you lose power for many hours it's significant, especially in the BIG city.

How did the blackout(s) affect you?
I didn't get married that day, the toilet wouldn't flush and the store I worked at got looted.

What happened to your perception of the blackout(s) when you heard the news about the full scope of the event(s)?
Nothing much, I knew it wouldnt last forever.

How would you compare the blackout(s) to "normal" power failures you have experienced at other times?
It was very long and HOT

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):
I was in Westchester County when the 1965 blackout occured and I was ten years old and I burned my hair with the candle I was holding. The difference being a child and an adult stuation.

Did the blackout(s) have any larger meaning in your mind?
Yes (please explain)

If yes, please explain:
the fact that I was supposed to get married the next day, an omen for a tragic marriage, my husband is a cheater

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:
Absolutely yes, I remember very clearly

Cite as: cris van duuren, Story #207, The Blackout History Project, 17 July 2003, <http://blackout.gmu.edu/details/207/>.
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