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February 10, 2000
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?
In 1977 I was living on Long Island, but frequently stayed with my grandmother who lived in Corona, Queens at that time. On July 13th of that year, I had made plans to go to Shea Stadium with some friends from Corona to see the Mets play. We went to the stadium a little early to watch batting practice and so we probably got there at about 6:00pm. After the game had begun, and was probably into the later innings, I had to go to use the men's room. Being about sixteen years old and having a bit of "metrophobia" at the time, I was a bit apprehensive about being in the men's room as it was. Then as I was conducting business, all of a sudden, the lights went out. The first tihing that ran through my mind was that someone was messing with the lights and that my best course of action was to get out of there and back to my seat as soon as I could. I left the men's room only to find that the corridors near the refreshment stands were also dark. I quickly tried feeling my way toward the tunnel way to get back out into the stands. Now as I looked out onto the playing field and the rest of the city - evrything was pitch black and quiet. I found my way back to my seat and asked my friends what was happening, and they told me it was a blackout.
After some time had past, some of the ballplayers started to bring their cars in through a back gate near right field and position their headlights so that they could play a make shift game to keep the crowd entertained.
I guess when they realized that this was not a temporary thing, the stadium personnel made an announcement (using generator power) that the fans were invited to stay at the stadium for the night since none of New York's subways were running. Fortunately fur my friends and myself, we were within walking distance from home and were able to get home safely. All I could remember is that it was very hot that night, and that there were reports of looting everywere.
Why did the blackouts happen, in your opinion?
Probably because of all the air conditioners that were on and that Con Edison was not equipped to handle such a tremendous load at that time.
What is your opinion regarding the general causes of power failures (blackouts)?
Power companies with insufficient equipment and/or technology to handle such loads.
Did either blackout seem significant or shocking at the time?
Why did you consider the blackout(s) to be significant or insignificant?
It was pretty much the most amazing thing to actually see an entire city without power while sitting in Shea Stadium looking out at the entire city before me.
How did the blackout(s) affect you?
Not very much - I was sixteen years old at the time and other than thinking that the whole thing was kind of cool, it didn't really inconvenience me personally too much.
What happened to your perception of the blackout(s) when you heard the news about the full scope of the event(s)?
That they can become very unsafe, especially in a huge city like New York where crime was and still is very real.
How would you compare the blackout(s) to "normal" power failures you have experienced at other times?
I guess that just the magnitude of being at Shea Stadium and in the men's room at the time the lights went out, just made this the most incredible thing and I really can't even begin to compare it to a "normal" blackout of any kind.
What affect, if any, did the blackout(s) have on your opinion of Consolidated Edison Company?
None - at the time.
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?
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:
Story #43, The Blackout History Project, 10 February 2000, <http://blackout.gmu.edu/details/43/>.
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