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Contributed by: [name withheld]
Contributed on: July 13, 2005

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 10 years old, and I started to watch Charlie's Angels (I think it was 9 pm). The picture on the CRT on my 19 inch black and white TV reduced to a square until the picture went out. My mom and sister recognized it as a black out. We lived in a high rise apartment building with 400 families between two buildings. I remember the families coming together. We stayed with our friends who only lived on the second floor so we wouldn't have to use the stairwell in the dark. I don't remember if we knew of the looting as it was happening (from am radio such as from 1010 WINS news or 66 WNBC or 77 WABC)or afterwards.

Every July 13th I reminisce about the Blackout of 77.

Why did the blackouts happen, in your opinion?
Something to do with Con Ed.

What is your opinion regarding the general causes of power failures (blackouts)?
I moved to Florida in 1982 and temporary power shortages were common from electical storms. I also experienced minor power outages (24-36 hours) hurricaines over the years (most recently from last year's hurricaines). Regarding my opinion? I believe in being proactive both at home and from the power company's end by having a disaster plan in place.

Did either blackout seem significant or shocking at the time?
1977 only

Why did you consider the blackout(s) to be significant or insignificant?
I was raised that NYC was the center of the universe, so knew that it was significant.

How did the blackout(s) affect you?
I don't take electricity for granted. I've come to expect it with hurricaines and tropical storms.

What happened to your perception of the blackout(s) when you heard the news about the full scope of the event(s)?
More reason to "hate" Con Ed. The looting was very big news.

How would you compare the blackout(s) to "normal" power failures you have experienced at other times?
Although I experienced blackouts from hurricaines, it can't compare to the urban experience. Re: the recent blackout two years ago in NYC and the Midwest, my relatives who were stranded in NYC spent the night on the streets.

What affect, if any, did the blackout(s) have on your opinion of Consolidated Edison Company?
It didn't improve it, although it was really the opinions of the adults around me. As a matter of fact, in the winter of 1977, Con Ed mistakenly thought that my mom didn't pay her electic bill and shut off our electricity. I came home from school to no power.

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'm fortunate that I only experienced minor power outages (24-36 hours) from last year's hurricaines (thousands of those affected were without power for weeks).

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. I remember the looting. My family remembered the 1965 blackout.

Cite as: Anonymous, Story #410, The Blackout History Project, 13 July 2005, <http://blackout.gmu.edu/details/410/>.
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