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Contributed by: [name withheld]
Contributed on: May 27, 2011

Which blackout(s) did you experience?
1965 (Great Northeast 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 only 12 years old when it happened. My grandmother had passed away 2 days earlier on November 7th, 1965. I remember riding in a car with my family through either the Holland or Lincoln tunnels on our way to catch a flight to Chattanooga, TE for grandmother's funeral to be held there the next day. I was alone in the back seat as we entered the tunnel, leaving Manhattan when I looked behind & thought I saw all the lights in Manhattan go out. We caught our plane & didn't hear there was a blackout in NY till the following day. I mentioned to everyone that I thought I saw the lights went out just as we left NY. We all said how lucky we were to miss event.
What I am not sure of or understanding is how we could we not know about the blackout right when it happened? Did it not affect New Jersey & Newark airport at exactly the same time it affected Manhattan or was there a delay in losing power in NJ?? Is it possible we left and just missed it like I recollect or did I imagine seeing the lights go out once we entered the tunnel? Unfortunately, my family members are no longer living to get their take on it.



Why did the blackouts happen, in your opinion?
Error by an employee or employees in Canada near Niagara Falls power grid.

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

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

Why did you consider the blackout(s) to be significant or insignificant?
Missed first one & was close to home 2nd time so not too problematic for myself.

How did the blackout(s) affect you?
First one not all.
Banged my knee on a fire hydrant in the 1977 blackout. Hydrant was unusually positioned away from curb age block sidewalk & hard to see.

What happened to your perception of the blackout(s) when you heard the news about the full scope of the event(s)?
Too young in 1965 to form an opinion other than surprise I missed it barely.

How would you compare the blackout(s) to "normal" power failures you have experienced at other times?
Not sure

What affect, if any, did the blackout(s) have on your opinion of Consolidated Edison Company?
None

If you experienced both the 1965 and 1977 blackouts, please compare them (describe the ways in which they were similar/different):
N/A

Did the blackout(s) have any larger meaning in your mind?
No

Did the blackout(s) cause any profound crisis?
No

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:
Heard on the news in 1977 about all the looting. Wild event.

Cite as: Anonymous, Story #2187, The Blackout History Project, 27 May 2011, <http://blackout.gmu.edu/details/2187/>.
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