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October 29, 2012
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?
A California native, I was visiting family in New Jersey during the summer after High School Graduation. My cousin Geoff and I had gone into the city for the day generally sightseeing. On our way back to my Uncles house, while passing thru a toll booth, I heard a radio on and the announcer saying "New York is dark...". We'd been a little later than our relatives had thought we would be, so they were quite concerned, however we were well out of the city by the time the lights went out so we were safe.
I listened to the radio for a long time that night. The reports were generally positive and I remember writing in my diary that I thought New Yorkers were weathering the blackout in a pretty positive manner. It wasn't until decades later (and more recently when reading this website)that I realized that those reports were not entirely accurate.
My Uncle had to visit his office the following day, and he told of having to walk up many, many flights of stairs as the elevators were out.
Why did the blackouts happen, in your opinion?
I remember them saying that there was a lightning strike somewhere north, possibly Canada, that set off a chain of events, but I don't know the real reason.
What is your opinion regarding the general causes of power failures (blackouts)?
Poor planning, poor engineering.
Did either blackout seem significant or shocking at the time?
Why did you consider the blackout(s) to be significant or insignificant?
I guess only because I was there for it, as I know the '65 blackout was far more widespread. It was just a day before we were leaving to return to California, so it stands out in my mind as a culminating event within a memorable trip.
How did the blackout(s) affect you?
I felt I was present for an historical event and felt lucky to be there for it, and doubly so for having missed being caught in the thick of it!
What happened to your perception of the blackout(s) when you heard the news about the full scope of the event(s)?
It changed quite drastically from believing that New Yorkers were ultimately good and helpful people in the face of adversity to seeing the reality that people are just people and some destroy while others seek to repair.
How would you compare the blackout(s) to "normal" power failures you have experienced at other times?
It obviously affected a larger area than I'm used to being in. Most blackouts I've been witness to encompassed only the neighborhood in which I was present. Not even my entire town, let alone a more widespread area.
What affect, if any, did the blackout(s) have on your opinion of Consolidated Edison Company?
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 #2198, The Blackout History Project, 29 October 2012, <http://blackout.gmu.edu/details/2198/>.
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