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Contributed by: [name withheld]
Contributed on: May 7, 2000

Which blackout(s) did you experience?
1965 (Great Northeast 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?
graduate student at NYU in electrical engineering studying at home in The Bronx, when the lights dimmed/flickered a couple of times. The TV was on and the station (in Manhattan) said they were having problems. I thought this was going to be big-like all of NYC. So I told my mother, who was on the phone with my old grandmother who lived alone, to tell her not to worry when her lights went out.

Sure enough the lights did go out throughout the city as I predicted; but I never thought it would encompass the whole north-east.

Why did the blackouts happen, in your opinion?
interconnection of systems that can cause failures in other systems.

What is your opinion regarding the general causes of power failures (blackouts)?
all systems can fail. blackouts are good because they remind people that technology is not failuere proof.

Did either blackout seem significant or shocking at the time?
1965 only

Why did you consider the blackout(s) to be significant or insignificant?
it was only significant only because of the area it covered.

How did the blackout(s) affect you?
very little; as soon as my father got home, I went back to studying via flashlight.

What happened to your perception of the blackout(s) when you heard the news about the full scope of the event(s)?
I was surprised at the full scope, but smug that I had predicted a very large blackout.

How would you compare the blackout(s) to "normal" power failures you have experienced at other times?
it was a normal power failure only bigger! what difference does it make if it is just my house or the whole block. I can't read any better in the dark even if 10 million people don't have power.

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?
Yes (please explain)

If yes, please explain:
it just reinforced the fact that technology can always fail. I have throughout my engineering career tried to reinforce this concept, both in my engineering designs, and when explaining technology to others.

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:
was not there in 77, however, it does ring true to me. It certainly was true in 65.

Cite as: Anonymous, Story #65, The Blackout History Project, 7 May 2000, <http://blackout.gmu.edu/details/65/>.
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