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This Day In History, 1977: New York City Blackout

Twenty-nine years ago today, on Wednesday, July 13, 1977, a blackout started in New York City that lasted overnight into the next afternoon.

I was seven years old at the time, and I remember the blackout somewhat. According to official reports, events leading to the blackout started at 8:37 PM, and the city was plunged into darkness at roughly 9:30 PM. My brothers and I were in our bedroom, reading by the light of the lamp on the bureau of drawers, when suddenly the light went out. I don't recall if we panicked or not. According to my memories, my father came into the room within seconds with a lit candle in a holder.

The 1977 blackout is infamous for the looting and riots that took place. Ensconced in our house in Forest Hills, none of that affected me. We got the news over a battery-powered radio and then somehow managed to get to sleep that night. My memory tells me that it was a hot night.

I don't recall much of the next day except that we did wait for the power to return. I do remember how we discovered that we had power again. I was outside, standing near the gate and tunnel that led into Forest Close, of which my house was a part. (Basically, the entire block consisted of houses that surrounded a locked in common area of grass and trees.) The tunnel contained a light, and although it was a bright mid-afternoon, we saw that the light had suddenly gone on again. We went back into our house, and sure enough, the power had returned.

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Copyright © Michael Burstein

Comments

I have vivid memories of the gas lines and the hostage crisis as well. For the gas lines, I have one memory of being in the car with my Mom as we're in a long line waiting to fill up at the gas station across Queens Blvd. For the hostage crisis, I remember the announcement of their release. We were in music class at the time and the teacher spontaneously broke into the Star-Spangled Banner.

(By the way, um, that icon kinda violates my journal policy against obscenity in comments...)
Thank you! (Although I didn't mean for you to change your default...you could always repost.)
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