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Contributed by: marion
Contributed on: March 14, 2011

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 lived in the heart of Bushwick Brooklyn when the lights went out in 1977. We lived on Irving Avenue between Bleeker and Greene Streets. My father, my sister and I had just finished buying Italin Ices from Tony's Pizzeria which was across the street from our 2 story home. As we headed back, we were in the middle of the street and ***BAM*** as far as I can see, EVERYTHING went dark!! We held on tight to our dad as we walked back over to the "stoop" were my mom was. I remember my dad not being worried. He kept saying, "Aww, This is nothing, the lights will be on in a few minutes, hours tops."

My sisters and I (I was 7) were REALLY petrified but after a few hours of uneventfullness, we began to feel as though it was an exciting adventure, none of mom's cooking, no school, no NOTHING!! We didnt have an air conditioner or anything useful to run off of electricity so we didnt care.

Contrary to what some may believe, there was not wide spread pandemonium. Yes there was looting but it was not near regular streets with only homes on it. Most of the looting was on major stores which ran along a "shopping avenue" for example, Knickerbocker, Metropolitan, Myrtle, etc....

Why did the blackouts happen, in your opinion?
Human error

What is your opinion regarding the general causes of power failures (blackouts)?
Human oversight and error

Did either blackout seem significant or shocking at the time?
Neither was significant

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

If yes, please explain:
Anything that is man made is doomed to fail at one point or another and from time to time.

Did the blackout(s) cause any profound crisis?

How did the blackout(s) affect your daily reliance on electricity?
Became less reliant

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:
In 1965 people were content to just be settled and decent. In 1977 people became more flashy and desperate. Would steal and sell anything for some drugs!

Cite as: marion, Story #2186, The Blackout History Project, 14 March 2011, <http://blackout.gmu.edu/details/2186/>.
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