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August 6, 1999
Which blackout(s) did you experience?
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 at the Regency Theater on 68th street and Broadway watching the last five minutes of "Goodbye Mr. Chips." the movie slowed to a stop. The frame burned, and the audience waited for a few moments. Then the projector started up, for another minute, and then went dead. This was July 13th, 1977 around 9:30pm. The manager of the theater walked down to the front and announced that a blackout was in progress. We all filed out of the theater, somewhat in shock. (I never did find out what happened in the movie.) My girlfriend and I began to walk down to Lincon Center and watched the well dressed patrons of the arts file out of the opera, concert and ballet. Everyone milling around, not sure what to do. I lived around the block on West 71st street, and the parties began.
Why did the blackouts happen, in your opinion?
A lightning strike on the power grid caused a domino effect on the northeast.
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?
We rely on electricity so much, both were a shock that our power systems could be so vunerable
How did the blackout(s) affect you?
What happened to your perception of the blackout(s) when you heard the news about the full scope of the event(s)?
What affect, if any, did the blackout(s) have on your opinion of Consolidated Edison Company?
Well there is the funny story about the con-ed man who knocked on the door of a "Survivor" and asked to read the meter.
If you experienced both the 1965 and 1977 blackouts, please compare them (describe the ways in which they were similar/different):
The first I veiwed from the Jersey side with my family. Seeing NYC dark is a great treat for an 11 year old. Where as the second blackout affected me more because I was living in the city.
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
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:
The story rings true only because I have read the reports from the NYT and Daily News recently on microfilm at the New York Library.
Story #4, The Blackout History Project, 6 August 1999, <http://blackout.gmu.edu/details/4/>.
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