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June 13, 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?
1965: I was 13. My grandmother, who was blind in one eye, thought she was losing sight in the good eye because the lights began to blink before they went out and that is what happened when she lost sight in the blind eye.
1977: I was in a windowless classroom at Baruch College that got real dark. We left the building by matchlight. I walked from Baruch to my apartment on 81 St. & 2nd Ave. I directed traffic at a few intersections and was amazed at the number of cars whom I had to tell to turn their lights on. The Upper East Side was a party. Ice was more precious than gold. New Yorkers are at their best when the mud hits the fan. It was a holiday atmosphere. Lots of drinking and friendly girls. Ahh, to be young, single and in a good neighborhood.
Why did the blackouts happen, in your opinion?
Lack of imagination.
What is your opinion regarding the general causes of power failures (blackouts)?
Did either blackout seem significant or shocking at the time?
Both were significant
Why did you consider the blackout(s) to be significant or insignificant?
The city stopped, coped, partied or rioted.
What happened to your perception of the blackout(s) when you heard the news about the full scope of the event(s)?
My friend at the Brooklyn D.A.'s office drew a much different picture than the one I had enjoyed.
What affect, if any, did the blackout(s) have on your opinion of Consolidated Edison Company?
Monopolies are not the most efficient(see the public schools).
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?
Became less reliant
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:
Seems about right. Crime in this country went down during the Depression. The '77 blackout had the disadvantage of occurring post the 1960's.
Story #94, The Blackout History Project, 13 June 2000, <http://blackout.gmu.edu/details/94/>.
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