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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 REMEMBER IT WAS BEFORE NINE PM. AND VERY HOT. I WAS SEVEN YEARS OLD. WHEN THE LIGHT WENT OUT THERE WERE SCREAMS AND CRY OF HORROR IN THE STREETS. THIS LASTED ABOUT FIVE TO
SEVEN MINUTES. THEN CAME THE PEOPLE RUNNING AND THE ALARMS
GOING OFF IN LOCAL STORES. I SAW COUCHES AND TV'S BEING
CARRIED. IN MY OPPINION IT WAS THE WORST THING I EVER
WITNESSED. TO SEE THOSE LIGHTS GO OUT ON THAT BRIDGE WAS
AN IMAGE I WILL NEVER FORGET.
Why did the blackouts happen, in your opinion?
NEW YORK IS A POWERFUL CITY. THERE IS NO DOUBT. WHY IT
HAPPENED I FEEL WAS A LACK OF PLANNING. YOU ALWAYS NEED
A BACK UP SYSTEM.
What is your opinion regarding the general causes of power failures (blackouts)?
WHO KNOWS. ALL OF THE OFFICE BUILDING STAY LIT UP, AND WHY?
ARE THERE PEOPLE WORKING TWENTY FOUR SEVEN THAT NEED LIGHT?
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?
How did the blackout(s) affect you?
IT SHOWED MY HOW PEOPLE CAN TURN INTO ANIMALS IN
A FEW MINUTES.
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?
What affect, if any, did the blackout(s) have on your opinion of Consolidated Edison Company?
If you experienced both the 1965 and 1977 blackouts, please compare them (describe the ways in which they were similar/different):
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?
Became less reliant
If other, please specify:
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:
YES AND IT MAKES ME SICK TO SEE A COUNTRY THAT CAN PULL
TOGETHER ONE MINUTE AND GO CRAZY THE NEXT.
Story #245, The Blackout History Project, 15 August 2003, <http://blackout.gmu.edu/details/245/>.
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