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August 15, 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 seven years old. I lived on the 36th floor of my apartment building. One evening my parents were watching television when the lights went out. The circuit breaker was near my bedroom and my parents thought I was playing a joke on them. When I came to the living room to defend my honor, I pointed out the window and said "it's not me." Grid after grid went dark. I do not remember how long it lasted, several days it seems. Without power, there was not enough water pressure to pump the water much past the fourth or fifth floor. Luckily my best friend lived on the fourth floor. Twice daily, my brother and I walked down thirty two flights of stairs and walked back up thirty two flights of stairs, each carrying two gallons of water at a time so that we could drink, cook spagetti (gas stove) and flush our toilets. It was a character building experience.
Why did the blackouts happen, in your opinion?
I do not remember. Any guess would be inaccurate.
What is your opinion regarding the general causes of power failures (blackouts)?
This is a guess, but after one large generator goes out, the current draw by everyone using the grid is so great that either the other generators burnout trying to meet demand or they shut off to prevent themselves from burning out.
Did either blackout seem significant or shocking at the time?
Why did you consider the blackout(s) to be significant or insignificant?
It reinforced how alone we were and dependent on electricity.
How would you compare the blackout(s) to "normal" power failures you have experienced at other times?
As a kid it was kind of fun because I did not have to worry about providing for a family.
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?
Other (please specify)
If other, please specify:
I am more aware of my dependence on electricty. I dream of erecting a wind turbine in my backyard, though my neighbors would probably have a cow.
Story #226, The Blackout History Project, 15 August 2003, <http://blackout.gmu.edu/details/226/>.
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