Thirty 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, Queens, 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.
From the New York Times City Room Blog:
- Remembering the ’77 Blackout – City Room – Metro – New York Times Blog
- The '77 Blackout: Inside the Command Center – City Room – Metro – New York Times Blog
- The '77 Blackout: Stoicism in the Subways – City Room – Metro – New York Times Blog
- The '77 Blackout: Authors Take Questions, Part 1 – City Room – Metro – New York Times Blog
- The '77 Blackout: Authors Take Questions, Part 2 – City Room – Metro – New York Times Blog
- The '77 Blackout: Writing by Candlelight – City Room – Metro – New York Times Blog
Copyright © Michael A. Burstein