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Contributed by: [name withheld]
Contributed on: May 16, 2000

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?
In 65 I was a kid and the people all came together to help each other . In 77 I was an adult and worked with the police dept in washington heights . It was choas , the city of new york was unprepared for a blackout . When the power failed so did the central communications . The only division that had a working frequency was the 5 th division so all of manhatten had to go on that frequency . The only calls that were given were shot fired or cops introuble and even they were handled as best as it could be done . At the same time some nut on 145th street decided to start shooting out his window . When I reported to the station house there were people already handcuffed to the banister in the stairwell . There were a number of tv's right as you walked into the station house . It was unbelievable . There were initally no light in the stationhouse .There were supermarkets ( dans 181street between audbon and st.nicholas ) and associated on 185street and St nick that were under siege , we weren't trying to stop looters but more tring to stop them from trampling each other . There was a TV store named CRest TV on 191and 192 street and St. Nicholas ave that they tore tha gates off of . Some bars were open and serving drinks by candle . busy , busy night .

Why did the blackouts happen, in your opinion?
If was my belief that an operator in upstate Ny told a con ed operator that the load was too much and they would have to cut back ( brown out some area ) the city guy never responded and the load was too great and took the whole system down . The temperture was high with high humidity were a factor in the high eletrical demand .

What is your opinion regarding the general causes of power failures (blackouts)?
Usually i thought it was high demand

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

Why did you consider the blackout(s) to be significant or insignificant?
The 77 blackout showed the worse side of the city , although I dont believe anyone was killed during the blackout , A police officer Edward Mitchell was killed the day after and I felt the fatigue factor may have been a contributing cause

How did the blackout(s) affect you?
I moved out of the city , I felt that when the lights went out so did themoral fiber of tt many of the people

What happened to your perception of the blackout(s) when you heard the news about the full scope of the event(s)?
I was hearing it on the radio all night and so i wasn't surprized , I just really expected people to get killed

How would you compare the blackout(s) to "normal" power failures you have experienced at other times?
Those were the only 2 power outages I experienced in the city , Now in upstate I have two generators

What affect, if any, did the blackout(s) have on your opinion of Consolidated Edison Company?
I dont think con ed can be faulted by one persons error and who knows maybe the guy was tring to shed power and just ran out of time

If you experienced both the 1965 and 1977 blackouts, please compare them (describe the ways in which they were similar/different):
In 65 people helped each other , in 77 people were out for themselves

Did the blackout(s) have any larger meaning in your mind?
Yes (please explain)

If yes, please explain:
It was like the book "Lord of the Flies " where civilized people turned in the blink of an eye or should I say the flip of a switch

Did the blackout(s) cause any profound crisis?
Yes (please explain)

If yes, please explain:
I think the city showed that it wasn't prepared for an emergency situation .

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:
That is it exactly . The light s going out was the same the difference to some extent was that as a country of immigrants , we have immigrants that come here with different values . They feel it's not wrong to take something because in there former country that's what they would do , so that's what they did . THIS IS NOT TO SAY THAT ALL IMMIGRANTS ARE THIS WAY .

Cite as: Anonymous, Story #76, The Blackout History Project, 16 May 2000, <http://blackout.gmu.edu/details/76/>.
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