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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?
My daughter was less than 2 weeks old. For the first time, we absolutely could not get her to sleep. I have very strong memories of sitting next to the open window overlooking Broadway (we lived at Bleecker and Broadway), breastfeeding her watching the only lights in the City - the buses and the ads on the top of taxis -go zooming past. It was hot and sticky and we were glued together.
I remember going out to buy diapers the next day and having to go to 6th Avenue to the old pharmacy (there for centuries, but I've forgotten its name)and how kind the people in the pharmacy were and how strange it was to wonder through the old store illuminated only by the daylight coming through the windowns.
Why did the blackouts happen, in your opinion?
Lack of capacity and upgrades
What is your opinion regarding the general causes of power failures (blackouts)?
Lack of appropriate investment in infrastructure and redundant systems
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?
One of the largest cities in the world, the premier city of the premier industrialized country couldn't keep the lights on.
How did the blackout(s) affect you?
It made it hotter and more inconvenient.
What happened to your perception of the blackout(s) when you heard the news about the full scope of the event(s)?
How would you compare the blackout(s) to "normal" power failures you have experienced at other times?
City pulls together.
What affect, if any, did the blackout(s) have on your opinion of Consolidated Edison Company?
It was poor before and poor after.
Did the blackout(s) have any larger meaning in your mind?
Yes (please explain)
If yes, please explain:
Systematic of the unwillingness of the country to deal with its infrastructure and sustaining its lifestyle.
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:
No. I didn't see any looting in lower Manhattan. People were helpful to one another.
Story #228, The Blackout History Project, 15 August 2003, <http://blackout.gmu.edu/details/228/>.
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