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Lessons from the Blackouts: The Historical Perspective

The blackouts opened a window on profound historical changes during the 1960s and 1970s. Amid the dramatic changes of that time, the blackouts were unique in that they suspended time for a few days and allowed society to look at itself. In this section we will look at three important dimensions of the 1965 and 1977 blackouts: economic, social and political.

Richard Hirsh, an historian of technology at Virginia Polytechnic Institute, places the Great Northeast Blackout of 1965 in historical context in "The Electric Utility Industry in 1965: At the Pinnacle of Success before the Blackout," 1999.

>Read: [html] [pdf] [doc]
(note: pdf requires Adobe Acrobat reader, doc requires Microsoft Word)


Historian Joshua B. Freeman discusses the 1977 blackout in Working-Class New York: Life and Labor Since World War II (New Press, 2000), in the context of the deep crisis New York City underwent in the mid-1970s, which included a steep recession, a city government brush with bankruptcy, and widespread arson.

>Read: [html] [doc]
(note: doc requires Microsoft Word)


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jts{27 June 2000}