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May 14, 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?
I was 8 years old and crossing the street from my grandmother's house to my parents' house in the Boro Park section of Brooklyn, N.Y., when the streetlights suddenly went out. I went upstairs to my house and the place was pitch black. My mother was in the middle of fixing dinner and was not happy that the electric had gone out, and at first had thought my brother and I had somehow shorted out the electricity. My father was attending banking school at night, and was getting off the train in Manhattan when the lights went out. Seeing that there would be no school that night, and also seeing that he wouldn't be able to catch a train home, my father walked home, walking across the Brooklyn Bridge and eventually getting home late that night.
Why did the blackouts happen, in your opinion?
Probably just an overload.
What is your opinion regarding the general causes of power failures (blackouts)?
Too much usage, not enough power.
Did either blackout seem significant or shocking at the time?
Why did you consider the blackout(s) to be significant or insignificant?
I had never been in a situation where the power had been out for such a sustained length of time. It also meant that I had to go to bed earlier, since there was nothing we could do.
How did the blackout(s) affect you?
In the relative scheme of life, not much. It was just a huge inconvenience at the time.
What happened to your perception of the blackout(s) when you heard the news about the full scope of the event(s)?
It didn't change until I became older.
How would you compare the blackout(s) to "normal" power failures you have experienced at other times?
It seemed much bigger.
What affect, if any, did the blackout(s) have on your opinion of Consolidated Edison Company?
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:
I didn't live in New York during the 1977 blackout, so I can't make the comparisons.
Story #72, The Blackout History Project, 14 May 2000, <http://blackout.gmu.edu/details/72/>.
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